The Someone That Never Was
Yesterday, I was looking for some paperwork for my taxes. I pulled a couple of boxes from under my bed and began to rummage through them.
I felt The Girl come up behind me. “Mama, what’s this?”
I shuffled papers for another few seconds and glanced over my shoulder at her. What she held took me a bit off guard. My pause did not go unnoticed. “Mama?”
“Oh, just some of Mommy’s old things. Put it down right there, okay? Thanks.”
What does one say when faced with an old pregnancy test from a baby that does not exist? The Girl had discovered the small box that held all that there is of The Someone That Never Was. Before there was The Girl, there was another second pink line… another moment of joy and gratitude…another moment of feeling overwhelmingly blessed.
The Husband and I had decided to try to get pregnant only six months after getting married. I read the results of the test (the test The Girl held) after only our second month of trying. I was shocked. Who knew it would happen so quickly? The Husband! I sprang into action. Father’s Day was coming soon. The Boy and I painted signs on poster board on the garage floor. It is one of those moments I can see in my mind like it was yesterday. So cliche, but so true. The Boy and I hunched over the poster board… painting and talking. Talking about what it meant for mommy to have “a baby in her belly”. Do you want a brother or sister? A brother, of course. Hurry! We have to hurry! They look great, don’t you think? Yep. I want to hang this one, mama. Okay, bud. Let’s go!
We took the signs to a spot near our house. The road curved there, and there was a fence there where people would sometimes hang signs. Yard Sale. Bake Sale. But not this day. On this day, the sign read “Happy Father’s Day! Love The Boy and Baby!” We hurried home in a flurry of excitement and waited. The Boy was watching TV. I was pacing between the windows, waiting to catch a glimpse of The Husband’s car. He was soon home and there was shock…and laughing…and crying…and more laughing. And of course, much happiness.
On Father’s Day weekend, we had a full schedule planned. The Boy was spending the weekend with his dad and The Husband and I went out on a date. We stopped at Target for some cards and paper…and took our first stroll through the baby aisle. We skipped dinner, because my stomach had already begun acting a bit skittish, and ended the evening with ice cream. White chocolate with M& M’s from Coldstone. We headed home to get some sleep. In the morning, we would be going to church with The Husband’s parents for Father’s Day and they did not yet know of our news. We had hatched a plan to tell them by making an insert to slip into their church bulletins. It read “Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s Parents, who are expecting a new grandchild.” We had a card signed from the baby – “See you in February!” In a glow of contentment, we went to bed.
In the grayness of the early morning, my eyes popped open. What time is it? What is that? No…no…oh, no. Okay, wait…calm down. I rushed to the bathroom. My eyes squinting against the bright light. No…no….please, no. My heart wrenched. My stomach knotted. A lump choked my throat. I was bleeding. Not just a little. I woke up The Husband.
“I’m bleeding,” I said a little too loudly. My voice was strained with the effort of holding back tears.
We headed off to the ER in a haze. I was rushed into a room at the mention of the words “pregnant” and “bleeding”.
They took blood and we waited. They performed and ultrasound. It doesn’t look good. One more ultrasound. I’m sorry. A nurse lowers her head and quickly ducks out of the room. A look of pity. We will need to give you a shot…let nature take it’s course…come back to make sure there is nothing left. Nothing left. We will get you out of here as soon as possible. Please try to rest.
And so it was. That quickly, all of the hope we had for the future was gone. Two words and it was over. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. My husband spent Father’s Day in the hospital. Not seeing the smile on his Father’s face as he learned that he was going to have a grandchild. I don’t even remember getting home. The Husband and I spent the day in silence. What can you say? At some point, we both ended up sitting on the bed. Our eyes met and we both collapsed into tears. I’m sorry.
How do I tell The Girl that for a brief moment, there was another? That there was a Someone and then he (she?) was gone…without ever having really been there at all? How can her mind grasp the loss when my own still finds it difficult? And so I say nothing. I carefully repack the small box and tuck it back in it’s place. And I remember again That Someone That Never Was, as I sometimes do. When I hear of another couple’s loss. When someone announces they are expecting. Every February 22. And countless other times. I remember because of my sense of loss…but I also remember out of a sense of duty. The Someone exists through my memory. I must remember. If I don’t, then who will? I remember to make that Someone real. There was no funeral, no flowers, no condolences. We mourned alone. We suffered a loss that was unseen or misunderstood at best….unacknowledged and trivialized at worst. In that small box is the only physical presence of that Someone on this earth. A glimpse of what could have been. What almost was. And what almost was not, I realize with a jolt. If that Someone were here, then The Girl would not be. I can’t imagine my life without The Girl.
“Mama? Mama? ” She taps my shoulder. I turn. She pokes me and grins. That smile is a soothing ointment on a wound that will never heal. With her smile, the pain lessens, but it will never disappear completely. I won’t let it. That pain holds my Someone.