Descent

The steam of the shower billows over the top of the glass, but the walls are still cold. I sit, bottle clasped in my hands, breathing its scent in so deeply my lungs start to ache. The streams of water and tears tickle my cheeks as I remember. 

Your tiny body, the first time we bathed you in the plastic whale tub, comically large in contrast to your tiny fingers and toes. The warm washcloths, covered in suds as we ran them over your smooth, soft skin, examining every inch of your perfection. Breathing in the smell of your damp hair, holding you extra tight as I cursed the cancer growing in your body. The last bath we had together the night before they put the central line in your arm and we had to switch to cloth baths. You lying on the living room floor on towels as we bathed you, carefully washing around your bandage so as to not get it wet. The first bath we had together after your treatment was finished- after the surgery when your incisions were healed shut, when we thought we were in the clear and joy had begun to creep back into our lives. The toys floating in the water as you splashed around, in awe of how the water sloshed and jumped when you kicked your legs. Your fresh pyjamas clinging to your skin as we read story after story, you turning the pages in delight. Sitting in our master bathroom tub together the morning we brought you home after the doctors told us you were going to die, not knowing how many days we had. Breathing you in so deeply, so fiercely, so that your clean scent would be indelibly burned in my nostrils after you were gone. Washing your lifeless body for the last time after your final breaths, before they took you away and your body became ash.

I open my eyes again, the water beginning to run cold against my skin. You’re gone. You’re gone. You’re gone.

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