Old Memories, Part II (Long)
Hard as yesterday's post was to write, today's is even more
Dealing with Steven's death was horrible but it was softened
by knowing that I was expecting his child. At that point I
didn't know if I was going to have a girl or a boy. Steven,
like many men, was absolutely convinced it was a son and we
had agreed on a boy's name. But we hadn't even discussed
girl's names. I had chosen one though and while I understood
his parents were hoping for a son to carry on the family
name, I secretly wished for a daughter as I thought it would
be easier to raise a girl alone. I also wished that his
child, no matter what gender, was blond and blue-eyed like
he had been as I thought that would make his parents happy.
I arrived home exhausted that Tuesday afternoon and went to
my parents' home. I awoke in the middle of the night, in a
great deal of pain, knowing there was something terribly,
terribly wrong and when I turned on the light on the night
stand and saw all the blood, I began screaming.
My parents assumed I had awoken from a nightmare but when
they came into the room they saw it truly was a nightmare.
There was blood everywhere. I lost consciousness from the
physical or psychological shock or perhaps both but by the
time I awoke in the hospital I knew my baby was dead. The
first few days I didn't feel anything at all. Then I became
consumed with rage, although I never expressed it outwardly.
Rage against the politicians who had gotten us in the war
and didn't get us out until it was too late for Steven.
Rage against Steven for dying. Rage against the doctors who
couldn't save my baby. Rage against God. Rage against myself.
The doctor was very matter of fact. I felt it as a
coldness. I don't know if he knew I'd buried my husband only
a few days before. He knew I was married and my husband
wasn't there. I still wore my wedding ring. He told me that
what had happened wouldn't prevent me from having more
children in the future but at that point I didn't care. It
didn't matter that I could have more children, you see. I
could never have another child with Steven and that was the
only thing I cared about. I was sad and angry and bitter.
Most of all I was bitter.
I sank into a deep and dark depression, a endless, heavy,
black hole. I stopped eating. A few months later I was
hospitalized again. This time the doctors were fighting for
my life. I weighed less than 70 pounds. My heart beat was
erratic. My body temperature was in the low 90's. I
wouldn't speak. I was drugged, I was shocked, I was
counseled. None of it helped, not really. It didn't change
anything. All it did was keep me alive. I was told I would
be discharged once I weighed 100 pounds so I forced myself
to eat just to get out of there. And I made some decisions
about my life.
One was to live. Another was to re-marry and to have another
family. I couldn't have Steven and my daughter but I knew
that out there, somewhere, was someone who would understand,
there was someone I could love and who would love me and
together we could build a family and a life. The thing was
I had no idea how to find him.
Friends arranged blind dates but I never went out more than
twice with any of them. All of them knew about my first
husband and child. It was awkward. They had no idea what to
talk to me about. The lives they seemed to want weren't
what I wanted although I would have been hard-pressed to
explain just what it was I did want.
Then one bright early June afternoon I was out with a couple
of close friends at a half empty small restaurant near the
university and the subject came around to me. One friend
saw a nice looking young man sitting alone, reading a book.
She dared me to go up to him and begin a conversation. I
hesitated but then thought what did I have to lose? I went
up to him and asked "Is this chair taken?" Assuming I just
wanted the chair, he said "no" without even looking up from
his book and was startled when I sat down and smiled and
then began talking to him. That man was John.
He told me later he couldn't figure out what was going on.
Was it a sorority initiation? He saw my friends sitting
nearby, watching, so he went on that assumption until they
smiled and waved at me and left. Then he thought perhaps it
was some sort of psychology experiment. He looked around
for someone nearby, watching us with a clipboard in their
hand, but there was no one like that there. He wondered if
some of his friends had set him up for some sort of joke and
he waited for the punch line. But I just kept on smiling
and chatting on.
He told me many months later that he knew I'd been sent but
he couldn't figure out who had sent me to him. "It was
God", I told him half seriously. "Or maybe it was angels."