Last week I submitted a piece of writing that is more dear to me than anything I’ve ever written.
The beats of my heart were on those pages and with one tap of the “Enter” key, I sent them off to be judged. To see if they’re good enough. If I’m good enough. If my retelling of heartbreak and heartache is good enough.
Two days later I was in the ER.
Let me start by saying that these two events were not related. But in some way, both Divine and lovely, their themes were.
My husband and I were heading to the wedding of a lovely friend when I started having horrible pain in my lower abdomen. My immediate thought was that I was in the early stages of pregnancy and was miscarrying.
I don’t pretend to know the thoughts and feelings of those other women who have suffered this heart-shredding emotional pain (we are sort of a secret society, aren’t we?), but, for me, the tidal wave of emotion was nearly too much to bear.
My husband insisted that we head to the ER where we were admitted by an all-too-perky-for-the-occasion staff member. She led us to a room where they took my vitals and into another room where I was asked to undress and don a lovely green polyester number, while waiting to be seen.
The walls, painted with an Under the Sea theme, seemed to be closing in as they hooked me up to lines and told me that it would be a while. I noticed how the “fish” looked like bowling pins with fins and how the curtain separating me from those caring for me was covered in starfish and seahorses that seemed to be laughing.
I believe they were.
Since it is my extreme privilege to be a woman, the nurse told me that it could be a myriad of things (we have many more parts and delicate places, of course) and that they’d be doing lots of tests.
I turned the TV volume up to drown out the elderly woman screaming for help and the man talking about how his ladder “had never done such a thing”.
They did a pelvic, then sent me for an ultrasound.
I didn’t feel totally helpless being wheeled around, not until we arrived in the room.
I was left there to wait. The lights were down low. The monitor was black.
My memories were too.
I have had a few ultrasounds. Each was supposed to be an introduction to our son or daughter, but we were never so lucky.
We haven’t thus been so lucky.
As I laid there, a woman was pushed past me. She had kind eyes, fragile wrists and no hair. It was her third ultrasound of the day. Cancer does that. I guess.
When the technician finally arrived, she started prepping me; she shimmied up my hospital gown, shimmied down my toasty blankets and spread a thick layer of warm jelly on my abdomen.
I forced myself to look at the screen
To. The. Silence.
I don’t know if it is the misfortune of every woman who has lost a child to wait for the woosh, woosh, woosh. I wonder if I’ll still wait for it well past child-bearing age. If I’ll always wait for that sweet sound of life and love and a million expectations all knit together.
That day, that moment really, reminded me once again of my hollow places. The ones I’ve cried about, screamed about, prayed about and, more recently, written about. And how they’ve taught me more than I ever thought they could.
They continue to teach me.
They. Always. Will.