Today I took you on your first trip to the car wash. The weather was glorious for the first time in months, but when the door to the outdoors slammed behind us the look in your eyes glistened stronger than the sun. I let you press your nose against the gnarly glass as you watched the cars swoosh through the raging machine. “Cars are cleaning, mommy!” you giggled. Your excitement was contagious and, for just a moment, I imagined myself in your shoes. Your unadulterated joy was so palpable, so real, that it brought me back to that place that only existed in my childhood: that zone where I could feel only joy and think of nothing else.
But then something happened. You sprinted into my arms, screaming “mommmmmaaaaay!” and kissed me with a brutish force. But behind your kiss was a woman. I had noticed her when we first walked in, but now her expression was impossible to ignore. She had a faint smile on her face as she gazed at you, but her eyes told a different story. They carried a sadness in them that was unmistakable: it was read more easily than the oversized “E” on an optician’s chart. They were the eyes of a mother that isn’t to-be. The gaze of a woman without. And they charted the path of her painful saga.
Her stare has stayed with me all day. I just can’t seem to erase the eyes of this woman in mourning. I can’t say that I know her pain, because I don’t. I will never know it, because I have you. I wanted to say something. But there was nothing to say. I wanted to hug her, but I knew my arms aren’t the ones she wants wrapped around her. I wanted to tell her everything will be all right. But that, at best, seemed disingenuous. Truth is, it’s a hole that will be very hard to fill.
Just a few months back, I was in a hospital bed. A doctor sat next to me. I asked him a question that I already knew the answer to. I asked him if I would be able to bear more children. His response made me angry, but it’s starting to make sense. “Katie, can’t you just be happy with what you have?” he asked. “Sometimes,” he whispered as he diverted his gaze, “sometimes we just have to be satisfied with what we already have.” His indirectness was infuriating. I excused him from my room.
As you begin to grasp the workings of the world, I have simultaneously dreaded the imminent day that you ask me for a brother or sister. It will hurt. I have promised to not cry. But today I as able to look through a different pair of eyes. And all I could see was a beautiful little girl who loved her mom so wholesomely. I longed to feel that girl’s touch, to take in the warmth of her hug. And I vowed that if she could be mine, I would want for nothing else.