Your father and I met at a bar. Someday I had hoped to tell you the story, so I guess I'll tell you now.
I had just finished my first month teaching and I was attending a group happy hour on the landing with friends. He happened to be there with a group of his own. There were drinks. There was dancing. (It was a piano bar, after all!) I noticed him immediately, and to this day I am proud of myself for making the first move. I remember sitting across from him after one too many Rum and Cokes. He looked at me and he asked, "So what, are you going to kiss me now?" And I did.
The piano player was taking requests, and we both submitted the same 'Outfield' song from the eighties. I considered it a sign. Of course now, the lyrics take on a whole new meaning: "Josie's on a vacation far away..."
Our first official "date" was the 2008 Blues Home Opener. He texted and asked if I liked hockey, to which I responded "I love hockey!" Truthfully, I had never been to a game, and as I waited for him to pick me up from the apartment I shared with your aunt, she gave me a mini-lesson on all the current players' names.
It was a wonderful year, filled with so many wonderful things. Our first Christmas together, birthday parties and familial introductions, "Two Bottle Tuesdays" and way too many late night karaoke sessions. I had never felt with anyone, how I felt with your father. It was fun and it was easy, and I loved him almost immediately. If you ask him he would tell you when exactly he knew he was going to marry me. It was around our fifth or sixth date on the drive home from a Cardinals night game. He played his David Bowie CD and we sang, "Oh You Pretty Things" as loud as we could the whole way home.
Nearly one year to the day after we met, we found out I was pregnant. It was not planned. We were not married. We didn't even live together. I had my reservations about becoming a mom at 24, leaving behind all the bottomless margaritas and two am dance parties. I questioned if I'd be good enough, if I could handle it, but I never once questioned your father.
That fateful night as I stumbled, hysterically, out of the bathroom and into his arms, I sobbed that I wasn't ready. Initially, through all of my "we can't be parents" and "how could this have happened's" and the "am I going to be fired's"... he seemed scared too, digging the pamphlet out of the trash can, frantically scanning every inch for some disclaimer, evidence that we had read the test incorrectly. And then he set it on the dresser. Calmly. He turned to me and he said, "Okay, so we'll paint the next room."
I don't have to tell you that your brother is the best thing that ever happened to us. That he is the best "mistake" we ever made, the accident I never deserved. That sometimes, when I think about how much I love him it gets hard to breathe. And when I think back to that night, to the fear that kept me awake until the blood test confirmation the next morning, I have to chuckle. That girl who was so afraid, hadn't a clue what fear really was.
It used to make me sad to look at other couples. The ones who had more time for just each other before becoming parents. The ones who traveled together, who had years of bar hopping and mountain hiking and dinner parties behind them as a twosome. The ones who picked out and meticulously decorated their first home together, down to the shutter color. I used to wonder if we truly belonged together, or if we'd been rushed into things, forced into this life and these obligations too soon.
Now I know things.
I know how it feels to watch the love of your life crumble, to crumble with him, to lay shattered together for months, each of you trying desperately to salvage what's left of the other.
I know that there are more important things to stress over than money or laundry or dinner.
I know that during the most difficult moments of life you will crave a certain touch, one specific smell. That one person can convince you to continue.
I know there are many fortunate couples who will live for fifty years and never bury a child, but might always wonder if they are with that person.
I know that I am with that person.
I know that after the death of a child, the divorce rate in my country jumps to 80 percent. I know that time is meaningless, essentially. That you can live a lifetime in a weekend.
I know statistics make me laugh.
This past weekend was the annual SHARE Angel Ball. Your father and I were honored to attend this event as ambassadors. Last year, Team Josie raised over three thousand dollars for this organization. While we ate, I thought of all the families in the room so deeply affected by baby loss, of all the future families that SHARE will help. We felt so incredibly humbled to be sitting in that room, and so very proud to be your parents.
There was an auction, and I marveled at all the beautiful jewelry, the bags and the home décor. Your father reminded me, as he often does, of the hundreds of bracelets and necklaces and purses hanging in our room. Perhaps we could bid on something to do as a family instead? He reminded me that we are saving. Saving for this baby and saving for a bigger house, hopefully in the next year or two, and so I nodded and we continued to enjoy our dinner.
At the end of the night, the auctioneer described the very last item: The commemorative SHARE Angel Ball bracelet. The bid was one hundred dollars.
He turned to me and asked, "Is it pretty?" I nodded.
And then he raised his card.