Yesterday was a long day of dealing with an achy little fellow who rattles when he breathes and moans softly while drinking hateful licorice teas meant to lower fevers of one hundred three. My child has the flu, so of course, in the back of my mind, I'm terrified he will die. I never was this reactionary before I found myself with a rare disease, before death came knocking in various forms for my children. The second, you see, died quietly in a drama-less missed miscarriage on Christmas day. His/her death was easy to percieve as I stomached a bite of bread for the first time in weeks. Having heard the rumors about abortion and miscarriage, I was not completely shocked. In the back of my mind, I had been holding my breath terrified my child would die. I held my breath through the arduous gestation of my living son, through the precarious first year, and now through every day of our lives.
When my child is sick I secretly need oxygen. He once had pneumonia; I scarce drew breath. He is 4 and I pretend I can still feel a fontanelle for the brain buldge sign of encephalitis. I also check for meningitis in physical neck maneuvers that would make any fitness guru proud. "And side, and side, and front, and back!" I know no sane mother is checking her child for these things. I also know no mother can BE completely sane after what I have been through. Fear will always be lurking under the surface; death will always be looking for more pink and blue confections.
So yesterday, at the end of a long stretch of teas, tinctures and worry I welcomed the numbing Prozac of sleep. Instead of the rejuvination of a pitch black slumber, I awoke in a dream, my legs in stirrups once again. I saw the surface of my abdomen and the outline of instruments rolling back and forth underneath pink flesh. Scraping and cutting, tearing and suctioning, tugging and tugging. The hidden instruments moved until my skin began to bruise and separate just under my ribs. Adipose tissue rolled out like glistening yellow carpet. The viscera were liquified by some unseen spinning trocar yet the instruments raged on. Was this abortion or embalming? Was there a difference? I saw my naked body jolting violently back and forth, like the drugged-dead woman I had cringed to see in a clandestine porno as a teenager at a party. I was being violated and raped, torn apart and ruined when my alarm clock sang out.
In the dark of the morning I opened my eyes, the aftertaste of the dream still clinging uncomfortably. Instinctively, I wanted to check my abdomen to make sure it was still intact, but that would have meant touching it - a thing I avoid since that January night. There's something about a crime scene I don't want to go near. My prayer, "Lord, FIND ME in my desperation," was answered by the raspy breathing coming from the small form laying next to me. A new day dawns. I kiss my child's soft, warm brow and take my mourning breath.