Why do our personal ghosts come out to play when the world is dark?
Last night is the first night in a long time that I wept for my children. My daughters, to be more specific. My son, well he's perfect, he's here and there is no need to weep for him. He brings only joy. And occasional frustration. Afterall, he's mine.
When JR and I were trying to become parents the "old fashioned way" conception was not our problem. Egg met sperm, implanted, and tried to grow. But somehow, it kept getting derailed. Somehow, even after watching a tiny flickering heartbeat on a monitor (again and again), our child would leave my body much, much too soon. And eventually so did my uterus. After all the pain it caused me, I was happy to see it go.
We never really knew why our children couldn't stay and grow in my body, only that one by one those tiny, flickering heartbeats faded away and I would once again find myself in a hospital wishing that morphine could even begin to touch the pain in my heart. There is no medicine in the world that can make you forget that you've lost a child. Even one you never really knew.
In medical terms, I am a "habitual aborter" (lovely term, isn't it?) and even though the statistics say that once fetal heartbeat is established you have close to a 100% chance of giving birth to a baby, well I am a statistical outlier. You know how everyone cheers for the person who beats the odds? Well I'm the person who was beaten by the odds, and no one ever cheers for that.
As it turns out, each of those children we conceived, and loved to the point of pain, were girls. Those heartbeats were housed in bodies just beginning to turn distinctly female. They were our daughters, and I miss them every day.
Oh, I don't dwell on it anymore. Sometimes a few days will pass without a conscious thought of who they might be and what our life might be like had even one of them lived. I'm much too busy living my life with son, my friends, and my family. Usually, I'm very happy.
But last night, as the world got darker, and I listened to the steady drip from the faucet turned on in preparation from the first real winter weather Atlanta has seen in a long time, those ghosts came out to see me. With them were the ghosts of Grasshopper's birthsister and cousin, even though (to my knowledge) both of those girls are alive in the world somewhere, living the life I can only presume they were meant to lead.
I lay in my bed and I wept quietly for all the little girls I hoped to hold in my arms, and the one that I did. I wept for my husband and the possibility that he will never parent a daughter, something that I know he desires very much. I wept for my son who (like me) is an only child and who (unlike me) will have to someday face the fact that his birthmother sent him to us (thank God), but kept his birthsister, even though her circumstances hadn't changed.
These were not the raging, loud, raw and angry tears of fresh grief. Just a quiet release of pain that builds, subtly, until one night the cold, and the dark, and the drip of a faucet become too much to bear.