O eternal Lord God, who holdest all souls in life … (Book of Common Prayer, 202)
If tomorrow is Hallowe’en, then Friday is All Saints’ Day. It follows, then, that Saturday celebrates All Souls. Even now that I am older, I count off the days like a younger woman following discreet symbols on her calendar.
November 2nd, All Souls, is not the day that my first love died. It is only the date upon which its demise was definitively confirmed, and its remains removed from my womb, which had refused till now, in its grief, to give them up. It was as though my flesh and blood themselves held out hope of a miracle, despite the signs already apprehended by my rational mind.
Was it too early to consider it a soul? For the longest time, ensoulment was presumed to take place at the quickening – the first movements of the foetus felt by its parent. These, in my informed imagination, were the signs of God’s intention toward adoption of the unborn child, the echo of the breath poured into God’s first child, formed of the earth and set in motion by the Spirit. This one left long before that could happen, but if its soul was held back in heaven, never to be inserted into the tiny, textbook form on the disrupted black screen, I was convinced that there was time yet for some reunion with my flesh and blood, glowing, unformed bone, untold name, ungrown infant.
Although my body still bears grief, stumbling into November with its ash and bonfire embers, the ghost of that fist of flesh contracting as though still holding fast, I reason with my bones, there is no reasonable cause for sadness, if this slight soul never left heaven, never fell, never bruised, nor ached. I imagine that it waits, as does my body, for our first meeting, one day when our souls will substitute for sight and know one another by the resolution of a long-suspended chord.