I wish there was a way to explain the world to you in a somewhat simple manner. Most days, I feel after thirty years of observing it myself, I am no closer to a resolution than when I first asked as a little girl.
I remember when I was seven and I slept on the bottom half of a bunk bed, on a blue mattress with white and yellow rockets on them. I woke up one Saturday afternoon from a nap and wondered for the first time, “What if my whole life is a dream?” I waited for the day when I was going to wake up from the real bunk bed of life and discover that I am really a sophisticated genius, dreaming I was seven years old.
In some ways, I think I am still waiting for that wake-up call.
I’ve been thinking about the pain I am physically in from all the different medications I am taking to ready my body for a pregnancy, hopefully. I’ve closed down any pathways for alcohol, steer clear of anyone who breathes out cigarette smoke, and try to get some form of physical activity once a day to rejuvenate my spirit. Vitamins, pills, appointments. This morning, I woke to a stomach full of cramps, gripping and squeezing my lower abdomen. Another cycle.
I’ve finished reading a book called, “The Shack,” and your Dad and I discuss all the ways we agree and disagree with it. The book is about faith. It’s about God and tragedy, but most of all, the book is about redemption.
I thought of how I might explain redemption to you someday and it almost made me laugh. You, an innocent oval of joy rolling around in my head with nothing resembling a stain or mark of evil or oppression on your skin, would know nothing of redemption because you know nothing of death or pain yet.
Redemption is about making something new, the bursting through of darkness with transformation and purpose. It is a lovely concept, but not many people believe in it. I think it’s an odd word, something foreign. I think I put space in my vocabulary from that word because I know it can only come through the despair of tragedy. Redemption is inherently tied to some sort of wrong. I hate wrong.
“The Shack” will be a thing of the past, a dusting on the walls of your books when you learn to read and I am confident there will be a hundred other New York Times frenzies for you to consume. But this book, this particular book came to me in a time where I have been thinking about the possibility of tragedy. My tragedy would not be loss, it would be tragedy of nothingness. Not having you, not seeing you and admitting all the darkest fears in my heart.
A strong confession left my heart and onto a kitchen table with friends as I let out some of my deepest fears of pregnancy and fertility. One of women, one of the wisest I’ve ever known, turned to look quietly into my face, the face of fear, “You need to come to grips with all that you are hoping and wishing. You need to face all the possibilities of having children and not having children and what that means to you. We’ll be here. We’re not going anywhere.”
Veronica, I couldn’t place whether I am more scared to have you in this world with me or to be without you and never experience giving birth to a soul within my soul, light from my cervix, a throbbing bubble of life in the space between my ribs. I am terrified to face the fear that my body may not be capable of the longest desire I’ve ever known. I am out of my mind frightened at the possibility to bring life into a world that doesn’t know anything about redemption except in the contours of novels and films.
Most of all, I’m scared what I will hear within my own mind for the rest of my life if I am infertile, if I am not able to hold life in my body. I am most scared of this small phrase that nearly every single human being thinks and feels, but loathes to admit: I am scared to fail.
My body might fail me. Your father might fail us. I might fail you. You might fail the world. God might fail me. I know I’ve failed God.
I’m afraid of failing.
So powerful is this fear that I don’t know how else to elaborate its meaning. It’s all there in one damning, one syllable word. Fail.
The shame of failure and the perceptions that dance around a dead dream haunt me everyday. The measure of womanhood is often by her body, her health, her decisions, career, family, relationships, mind, spirit. And children. I’m afraid of being seen as a failure, being seen as dry in the soil where life is supposed to thrive. I’m afraid that I have no garden inside me.
I have all the intuition in the world and I still cannot feel where I am headed. I hope, I suppose, toward my own redemption.
And so, even with all those dimming lights, the sadness and trembling, I continue to plow my land, I dig in the areas where the ground is soft, working to create this garden. I loosen the dirt, readying it for rain, seeds, and love. Readying it for you.