January is a bad month for me. Probably the worst time to clean out the attic. But the husband asked, and I complied. I riffled through decades-old photos and correspondence, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia. Being exposed to my old life is bizarre. And depressing. Looking at the photos I see myself and the life, so full of potential, that stretched before me. And sitting now on the other end of it, I feel like some kerchiefed old seer, cackling in half-madness over the cauldron of time. Oh God, the things I have seen and now know...
What do I do with all my brittle hopes and yellowed dreams? I eschew them for reality. I dump them all into the trashcan: photos of my youth, books of my poetry, a towering stack of love letters written and sent to me every day--sometimes twice a day--over the course of a year, college papers, all the cards from my wedding...everything. I just don't care anymore. Or if I do, I just don't care that I care. Reams to fill three kitchen trash bags. I felt like crying, but I didn't. Emotional constipation means survival. At least I know I will never have to live the radiant disappointment of riffling through it all again. Now it's gone like every dream I had of what life would be when I was finally on my own. My most precious things carried off to the dump to mingle with leaking cans, infected tissues, used maxi pads and other refuse.
Speaking of which, I found a happy little pregnancy meditation book (complete with bookmark) that my abortion-supporting in-laws gave me eleven years ago today, during my first, decidedly UNHAPPY, disabling, fraught-with-disease pregnancy. It says:
"A baby is a blessing-- It's a joy to watch it grow, To see its little toothless smile And count each tiny toe. A baby is a blessing, For its life is bright and new; Just by being here it gives our lives new purpose, too. A baby is a blessing, For when faith or hope is gone, A baby clearly signifies God's wish that life go on. ~Jill Wolf"
None of us knew that I was 9 days away from aborting that blessing due to maternal illness and the lack of medical (and even social) support, and reading the bookmark kind of makes me chuckle now to realize how superficial people are, how conditional and dishonest. My in-laws are not unique; if they were it would be far less troubling. They voted for Kerry and will vote for Obama for all they care about "God's blessing." Further, the man is a preacher, and he and his wife once stood out in the yard under God's open sky telling their son, whose fatherhood was butchered in an abortion along with his first child--their grandchild--that "abortion is a choice between a woman and her God." Such compassion and devotion makes the bookmark so poignant now.
I guess I held onto it for all these years, not because it meant anything to me in and of itself, obviously, but because it was handed to me and in my possession during a time when my child was still alive. And so it became a remnant of that pregnancy and thus a remnant of my child. God knows I have tried for years to hold on to any semblance of my child. But that's a bit impossible, I suppose. And I feel a little ridiculous trying. My child is gone like my past is gone. Here once but no longer. Into the ether. S/he cannot come back to me, but one day, like David, I intend to go to him/her. Until then, into the trash with every moth-eaten, rust-covered temporary thing.