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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sound. Proof.

Dear Josie,

I had an ultrasound today.

Is it weird that I keep forgetting?  This most exciting, miraculous thing.  I'll be driving or eating or laughing and it will hit me.  The realization along with the paralyzing fear. 

It's impossible to ignore at the doctor's office, and there have been many appointments.  They aren't leaving much to chance this time.   I am forever grateful for the interventions, can't help but wish you had been privy to them.

I entered the waiting room and I noticed them immediately, the couple to my left.   He was shifting uncomfortably in his chair.  Her, a crumpled Kleenex in hand. 

I don't know how long they'd been there. Soon he approached the receptionist, gestured towards the neon sign on her desk: "Please let us know if you've been waiting longer than thirty minutes."

I heard her ask from the six feet away, "What time was your appointment?"  No appointment, the man clarified.  They had just been sent from their doctor.

I felt my stomach drop.

I thought of the ultrasound machine when they couldn't find your heartbeat.    The last effort, wheeled in by shaking hands not wanting to confirm.  The frigid gel I never felt,  eyes fixated on that still screen. The neutral d├ęcor in that beige room, impartial and detached as I became in an instant.

I could feel the lump rising in my throat as they were called back.  Hurriedly, reluctantly they walked as I had.  Into the elevator, onto the bed...

I was still waiting when they returned, saw the stains on her cheeks.  Her eyes red and staring forward, leading feet that longed to turn back.  He was crying but she was stoic, turning for his hand as they reached the door. 

An hour passed before I would alert the receptionist to my presence.  My long standing appointment time now a distant memory to clocks on taupe walls. The time that doesn't stop no matter how you will it to, dragging you onward in a bloodied captivity.  

I didn't mind, would have gladly let the plaid-covered recliner absorb me were it possible.  I  preferred to be forgotten there, in the cushioned potential of the unconfirmed.  I wanted to run after her, to hold her in my arms and never let go. 

I  jumped when they called my name, couldn't stop the tears when I heard that heartbeat.  It was strong and it was steady, as yours had once been.  I was relieved and I was terrified.  As deserving as I was guilty for this evidence, this undeniable proof of existence.  Grateful for the elusive sound that floors me, for this heart that beats with mine.

I could have listened forever.  And I couldn't leave fast enough.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

October 7, 2014

Dear Josie,

Today we got the news. 

Driving to the store  I felt a familiar wave.  Within minutes of unlocking the door I would know, grocery bags untouched on the table.

One can imagine the events that likely followed.  The jumping up and down, the wrapping of your brother in my arms to spill the happy news.  The call to your father, your grandparents, the press...

Only that isn't what happened this time.  This time was very different.

When I learned you had died, I had questions.  So many questions.  One of them was answered rather quickly.  "When can we try again?" 

As if it were that simple, the trying.

Six months we were told, and so we waited.  We waited for blood work and pathology reports.  We waited as friends and family had their babies, drove them home in cushioned car seats, dressed them for birthday parties and weekend trips to the lake.  We waited through more blood work, more tests, through therapy sessions and condolences.  We waited for the green light to hope again. 

As if it were that simple, the hoping.

And now.  Now as I sit, this test before me I shake.   

I shutter at the thought of telling anyone.   I imagine there is some universal entity, hand just above the button.  He watches me and he glares.

"Oh yeah? "  A smile curves his lips.  "You think?"

I desperately want to run and hide, to fall forever into a life under the covers.  I want a life with little chance of this pain.  I want a life with my hand on that button. 

It is calm there, in that life.  It is  predictable and it's safe.  The minutes and days and years of leaving well enough alone.  This memory that haunts me, quells the dreams that rage within.

Yet I can sense the rise in my pulse,  feel it accelerate even as I sit.  Although there is no guarantee, there is an excitement.  There is a chance.  Something the softest blanket could never provide.

It is one way to survive, my hand on that button. 

It's no way to live.