“All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque. ”
-Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead by Tom Stoppard
When she was young, she thought she would have children. She thought she would have six. They would all have different fathers who could visit but not live with them, they would all be girls, they would be strange and ethereal and witchy. A wrinkle in time meets little women meets the chrysalids meets village of the damned meets matilda meets children who aren’t startled to meet a polite faun in the woods on the other side of a wardrobe. They would live on a property that had running water, a beautiful bright house, dogs, goats and chickens. She later amended this to involve ducks instead, after she had known some chickens.
She understood that it wasn’t quite a reality dream, it wasn’t entirely a practical dream. She didn’t hold it in her heart so much as her mind as something that might be a delightful adventure. She had other dreams that fell by the wayside too, along the path she trod.
As she grew older, the dream of six dwindled to fewer, and fewer still. In the recesses of her mind though, there was one. There was one that she carried with her. A small girl with dark eyes that held questions she understood were unanswerable by human mouths. A creative and strong individual who comprehended that the language wind speaks through trees is of a different dialect than that which blows across the sea. A girl who would grow to take delight in the everyday and suffer in silence because pain affects everyone, how we show that pain affecting us is the part that makes us mighty.
Her fear that she was too broken to carry this girl, to bring her here weighed on her heavily. She had sought out the companionship of other broken people, deluded that she didn’t know how to be whole. To be incomplete with another was close enough, yes?
And she knew that too, but habits ingrained are difficult to relinquish, even when faced with the nonsense of their existence.
Then came a moment. A crashing blazing thunderous rain soaked night filled with music and the intoxication of something wild to match her own. Something that recognized her fire and blazed hot in eyes dark with a madness she found familiar. Who was the moth and who was the flame mattered not at all. The passion extinguished quickly, but the moment would stretch on until she knew that there would be evidence of it before too long.
It was the most terrifying moment she had ever known.
Saying it out loud was the hardest part. She shared with him, it was only right, but this creature would not be his. She belonged to her. They spoke of names, they spoke of a future, out of courtesy more than reality. She already knew her name. She didn’t know where they would live or what they would do but she allowed her heart to curl around a womb and settle into a tempo that would comfort and soothe.
But then the questions. The discussion of timing, of place, of intention. “Is this what the universe intends for you, at this time?”
Though she had already become attached, the need for reason prevailed and she found herself at the river’s edge somewhere between a moon full and a moon new, somewhere between a decision made and a conflict unresolved.
She asked the question. “Is this right? Is this the path intended, or is this a wake up call for my focus to determine itself more cohesively?” She asked the questions, though her heart had already handed over control.
Three nights later a windstorm arrived. It blustered and blew and made furious overtures within the trees. It threatened safety, it raised tensions to a height beyond anything that seemed sane, much less comfortable. The woman in her sanctuary was pensive, she had shared with friends and family the news of the newness within and was afraid of her tendency for an all-in perspective. It was still so early, there were still so many moments for a mistake to be averted. How could she have handed over her ability to rationalize so quickly? It must be something cosmically true that was happening.
That night, her dreams were filled with dischord. She tossed and she turned, there were screams no one could hear, there were omens and portents and candles that flickered though the tempest was outside.
In the morning, stillness. Sunlight through broken branches, birds that sang as though they’d never known terror. She woke and she smiled and then she stirred.
And then the pain.
As though her uterus was filled with razors and any movement sent them barreling into her guts, spiralling up to her throat and slashing any sound she might consider uttering to ribbons. She tried to lie completely still, she tried to summon the strength to pull it all back inside, to push it down and bear the agony..and then she felt it. She felt the rush, stronger than the pull of any river fighting it’s way to the sea. She sobbed, knowing that the thing she had expected had arrived. She could feel the cold below her and she knew that it had gone without her even realizing it, which hurt much more than she could have believed. The creature had left her, this part of her so new, so fragile, so young as to still be nearly intangible, and she hadn’t noticed.
Eyes squeezed shut, she reached and felt the damp and lifted her fingers, praying that when she opened her eyes, there would be no colour spread across them..no…
And then the pain driving deep into her, pulling all of her strength with it. A wave of blinding light, how could something burn while it flows like liquid? A volcano, she thought. I’m giving birth to a volcano. And then the shock, the horror, the fear that she might die here, alone in this place she loved, alone in this bed that this lightning child was conceived in, that the previous night’s windstorm had ripped and carried away from her.
Drawing from somewhere within the pain, she pulled back the covers and sobs wracked her body afresh when she saw what seemed to be the majority of her interior pooled on the mattress. How could she have bled so much and continued to sleep? How could anything have kept her from realizing that the thing she had become so close to have left so stealthily in the night?
She mustered the bravado to clean herself, dress and seek aid. Every step she took was like walking on spikes through cement. She found a friendly face and collapsed, begging for help. The trip to the hospital was a blur. Once they realized there was no one there to save, that the creature was already gone, the only consideration was alleviating the pain. She liked it there.
She liked the numb. She liked the absence of responsibility. She felt silly for even causing anyone trouble. It felt obvious that everything was alright while she was there. She hitchhiked back to the place she lived in a daze. And everything was swimmy and good, there was a dull ache between her legs, a ripe soreness a little higher but there were no feelings.
Until she saw him. Him, who she never even really had feelings for beyond the thunder infused night they shared.
The tears, the apologies for something she wasn’t really sorry for, was she? Honestly, it was something she had never really wanted. Hadn’t she? She was never the marrying kind and she sure wasn’t the maternal type. That whole part of her who thought she was doing the right thing, that was the delusional part, wasn’t it?
Admitting this is so damn hard. It might be the hardest thing I’ve ever said in my whole life. But I can’t carry it anymore. I secretly thought there would be another moment, I’ve held that possibility in my heart for so long and it’s breaking me. The bravado I wear as armour is just too damn heavy to drag around anymore.
I have to let you go, I’m so sorry. I don’t think I’ve ever been sorrier than I am to admit this. But I’m 39 now and it’s time to set you free to find your way to wherever you are supposed to be. Because I don’t think it’s here with me. And that’s really really okay. But know this.
I would have had you.
I would have had you and I would have loved you more than I ever thought possible.
Before, during and after you were born.
Your eyes, so dark like mine.
Your hair, with just enough red running through that the moon would seek your company on nights she craves warmth.
I would have taught you the songs of the four winds.
I would have let you come to understand, just because a brook babbles, doesn’t mean it speaks nonsense.
I would have showed you how to dance.
I would have showed you how to ask and
how to stop asking when the only way to invite answers is with silence.
I would have allowed my heart to break over and over and over again every time you cried,
only to grow a little larger with every laugh.
I would have delighted in introducing you to Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, Jim Henson, Neil Gaiman,
anyone who ever wrote a story about a place I believe you’d benefit from visiting.
I would have been enraptured,
confused and completely done with it
I can’t do any more!
And then done more.
I would watch mini me as you grow and age and come to understand that all the money in the world won’t buy sense.
I would measure your growth in the lines on my face.
I would cry the first time I realized you were too big to carry into the house,
especially since you hadn’t realized it yet and had to walk to bed sleepy from the car ride home.
I would mark your height on a doorjam that would never be painted over,
kiss every hurt,safety test every rope swing even when you’re screaming at me that it’s your turn.
I would give up the last piece of pie,
Just because I’m not her,
doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been,
even if I wasn’t.
I wish you well.