Every time I think I learn something about myself, about my body and how to best treat it or love it, my body tells me that control is a lie. I once read something that said, “fear is the feeling of losing control.” If you scared, say you scared. But saying it doesn’t make it go away.
But its impossible to go very far without seeing a sudden dark opening, the sloping, rotting framing of an abandoned mine entrance, or the colorful, dangerous scree sloping downhill: the remnant tailings from the ore processing that once happened here, spilling from a now filled-in shaft that one hundred years ago would have been busy with miners like so many ants at an anthill.
One thing you will feel, as fiercely as the contractions squeezing you now like a juicer, is that it will always be a different kind of loss for him. He might say, if he spoke about it, that he didn’t know this child. How can he mourn a person he didn’t even know?
The nurses in the ICU had said I was going to rehabilitation, but since I’ve only heard rehab synonymous with addicts, I have no idea what to expect. The huge collar around my neck prevents me from seeing much beyond the EMT, so I’ve got nowhere else to focus my fear. I try again.
Suddenly, the baby’s head was in my hands and I saw the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck—the neck, oh my, with all those critical bits of anatomy. I held that big slippery baby head in my left hand and slid a couple of fingers under the purple rope and lifted it loose and then the infant slipped out of the mother, into my arms. Finally, the baby could breathe. I could breathe.
With practiced pain, I delivered an Oscar-worthy performance of smiles and congratulations, and then escaped to the bathroom and sobbed until my eyes were bloodshot.
Even your children, Mom and daee, tried lecturing you, but I knew you didn’t regret it. The sour taste you adored was still in your mouth.
At the Whitney Museum, David Wojnarowicz’s portrait of his friend Peter Hujar claims its own wall. Ten feet back, I twist from parallel to perpendicular, unexpectedly lingering instead of walking by.
Memory is not kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing damaged ceramics with a mixture of lacquer and powdered gold. There are ugly seams. There is no glittering dust poured into the fractures between sentences.