I heard your cries before I saw you, a secondhand
cacophony from multiple iPhone speakers. When one of
your grandmas tried to show me a video, I waved the
screen away. “IRL! IRL!” I repeated under my breath.
You were a welcomed interruption to the banal discourse
in that waiting area – a conversation about coffee bean
production, accolades of Springsteen on Broadway, and a
silent leafing through last month’s InStyle. One of your
grandpas methodically Purelled his hands and hovered
near the entrance. All I could see through the rectangular
slits was a leftover Christmas wreath over a row of
printers. Your dad emerged wearing fatherhood the same
way drag queens wear makeup – flawlessly. He
announced your name and, although it did indeed begin
with the letter B, I was relieved he didn’t say “Brandon”
because, if he had, I would’ve hated you.
When your parents told me about you and your to-be
existence, I reacted with inaction. I shot a look over to
your grandma and saw nothing. No shock, no screams.
Just a cheeky grin. And then I understood – this is my
surprise. Your parents had just returned from a holiday in
Italy where your mom had to pose for Instagram photos
with glasses of wine to keep up appearances, because
apparently women can’t go to Italy and not drink wine.
They had all known and I was the outlier. They had known
when I was inpatient at the NYU psych ward for almost
two weeks. They had sat across the table from me in the
dining area and kept you to themselves. I couldn’t call this
betrayal or a lie or some thoughtless decision. But I could
call it pressure to stay alive.
I’ve traced my follies with precision only to see the shape
of love. Was it always deformed or had memory taken its
toll? I can recall instances in college of having the word
gifted and withdrawn within the same breath, of turning
off my phone and wandering for hours in the silent Ohio
woods, or using a thumbtack to drawing a five point star
under my bellybutton. How easy was it for me to tell all
my girlfriends that, when I died, it would be by none other
then my own hand, how the notion soothed me? There’s a
freedom to suicidality that goes away once you’ve been
stabilized, once you realize that it was never freedom to
I heard your cries before I saw you lying on your mother’s
breast. I hugged your dad, kissed your mom, and grazed
your hand with mine. Your uncle cried, yet I couldn’t. I
had spent two years in and out of hospitals for my tears
and fits and attempts and now was not the time. You
didn’t have my attackers name, and for that I was grateful.
The thought of trauma tainting you devastated me. Later
that day, you opened your eyes for the first time in my
arms and I couldn’t look away. Once settled, your mom
would go on to post a photo of the two of you on
Instagram saying how you redefined the meaning of love
for her and your dad. For me, the love I felt when we saw
one another was recognizable. Love at nineteen and
twenty-two and twenty-five is all the same. But, unlike the
love that’d inhabited me before, yours was whole, a
revival, a needed interruption to the stillness in us all.
Annette Covrigaru is a gay/bigender American-Israeli writer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. They were a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices nonfiction fellow and writer-in-residence in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, TQ Review, Emerge, Gendertrash Café and Cosmonauts Avenue. Annette is currently completing a master’s degree in Holocaust Studies through the University of Haifa