The hollow ache that carved out my insides, one that can never fill up all the way.
It's not something I talk about much, but it's been haunting me. More specifically, the last several nights. Late, past three, when the sleepers of the world are soundly resting. When the night is dark, and still, and empty.
I woke about a week ago in a panicked state. Flushed and sweating and frozen in place. There was a baby girl. I could see her as clearly as I see my own reflection in the window opposite my desk. Every sense was engaged in this dream. That precious child had a smell, a sound, a name, a feel that seemed to move through my dream into my conscious state. I woke, and I would have sworn that baby left my arms just a moment before.
A defensive line had nothing on me as I held back the attack of emotions that was waiting ahead of me. I had to get up, it was time to take my husband to work. I stayed busy all day, promising not to remember this dream. Do anything to keep my mind occupied. Anything to prevent the barrage of tears.
The concept of Pandora's box probably applies. Occasionally, something forces the lid loose; some memory of what I thought I'd have. Some glimpse of what I wanted. Over the years, I tried harder to stuff it all in and keep that box closed.
Often, I had to remind myself in a fit of sadness that one child for someone else did not mean one less child that could have been mine. That children are not handed down as a reward and that I'm not being punished. I learned to attend baby showers, to be the happy gracious godmother, the free and willing babysitter.
But, now, I've duct taped the damn box. I've arranged and rearranged to make it all fit, to close that lid tight. I'm ready to sit on it just so it can't open and take me inside. I could suffocate there if I'm not careful.
I used to look at those who chose child-free living, childlessness, as unwilling to take action. As unable to follow through. I think I thought it was what you settled on when you never wanted children that badly to begin with. But, some I knew, just gave up, because hope, she is one cruel bitch.
I've ended up childless. I didn't choose it, it chose me, and I feel cheated. Cheated not only out of a child, and motherhood but a husband. Because in all the places he shut down, he started that progression here.
I want to ask everyone I know why they had children. Perhaps the more time I have to think about them, and having them, has made me hard. I don't think I could be a parent anymore. I doubt that I would be a capable mother. And after what I went through to have one?! And the disdain from those who disapproved when I was diagnosed with cancer, because it had to have been the infertility treatment that brought it on. I was messing with nature. It wasn't meant to be. Some people just aren't supposed to have children. It's god's plan for you.
I was a mother figure, maternal and nurturing. I was a natural. I have a knack, and anyone within distance of me and a child knew it. The children themselves knew it. Now I'm impatient and bitter. I think I outrun it sometimes. Weeks, months will go by where it's not an everyday throb, maybe just an ache. It works down to this faint twinge, and when you get comfortable that perhaps, just maybe, it's almost gone?
The pain gets sharp and twisted. So crippling you wish you could somehow cut it out of yourself, for you can't breathe, or see through your tears. You can curl up in a ball, but no one will know, since you sleep in a separate bedroom. You fail to settle yourself, and you surrender to it.
You learn to sob silently, because the night is too quiet to disturb with the sounds of your grief.