Be present, they like to say, but the present eludes me when I write. I like to write in retrospect, when I have the perspective I need to wrap everything up neatly and tie it with a pretty bow. I like to understand – unfairly perhaps – what I want to share and what I want to hide. I like to know the end of the story, for good or for bad, because without the end of the story, how do I know the proper place to begin?
I suck at telling people how I feel in the moment. I laugh it off. I make a joke. Oh, I know, it’s terrible, but for the love of god, the drama, let’s gently mock me. It’s a false sense of control and calm I sell you, though I don’t do it maliciously and I don’t bend the truth. I am honest here and I tell you my faults as often as I tell you my virtues, my failures as often as I divulge my successes. Are omissions of thought untruths? Certainly, if you write a story in the middle, it is a very different story.
Last week, I wrote of Nate and the ice cream truck, “[s]ometimes, what you believe to be true is not and you are left holding nothing but a painting painted in water in the heat. Until someone hands you ice cream.”
I believed so many things in the last three years. I believed that the hemorrhage after Nate’s birth was caught too late and that the procedure to remove the retained tissue was done poorly; I believed that the damage done was severe; I believed the first surgeon when he said he had fixed it and I hoped fiercely. I believed the second surgeon when he disagreed, when he said that the scarring was still awful and that the odds of an ectopic pregnancy were high enough to warrant a second surgery. I believed him when he said (gently and with great compassion) post-surgery that he couldn’t clear the scarring, that the tube was completely blocked, that pregnancy was impossible and therefore the risks were low.
I believed and I took what comfort I could in answers. I let the anger flare and rage and fade. I began the process of refocusing, of talking to someone about my confusing emotions. I joked with Matt about our running clock. Fourteen years and nine months before he quits pharmacy forever and we rediscover, hopefully, with any luck, the life of travel, reading, and quiet togetherness that we remember.
That, as it turns out, was all painted in water on a hot sidewalk.
I didn’t believe this, even as I wilted in the heat and crawled exhausted through my days. Mono! I complained, pneumonia, low iron, my god, there’s something wrong. I didn’t dare to consider it until the day I winced when Nate brushed against my breast and then I wondered. I took a test believing myself to be the silliest, most deluded woman in the history of silly, deluded women. Two of the quickest bright red lines ever to appear on a little stick didn’t make me believe. I knew what they would say. It’s in the tube. Hysterectomy. Emergency.
But he or she isn’t. This story is at the beginning. It could be a water painting too. They tell me it’s not. They tell me that the numbers are excellent and the heartbeat is strong and the placement is perfect. I’m a believer, we all are, aren’t we? Despite it all, I want to believe.
How do I feel right now? Like someone handed me a triple scoop, chocolate deluxe waffle cone with hot fudge and sprinkles. Also, a little bit terrified that it’s not meant for me and they are going to want it back. Let’s pretend that’s not possible, let’s laugh it off, let’s gently mock me. Against all odds, our fifth child is due the week of my fortieth birthday, isn’t that amazing?