I cried at the gynecologist’s office. No one was more surprised than me. But the nurse started asking me questions, and I noticed the cheerful posters all around me, and I knew that all those services for pregnancy and for birth control are not for me anymore. I was just there to make sure I don’t have cancer.
Everything I knew about myself has just stopped. Life continues, but really only to take care of the kids. I just need to carry this body around to make sure that the kids have what they need. They need so much. They have been thrust with a burden that they cannot shed. They will carry this horror with them forever. All I can do for them is to provide stability. I am doggedly determined to give it to them.
I find myself doing the calculations. Next semester, I’ll have between 9:00 and 3:00 each day. What if there are a zillion two-hour delays on days I teach? Take daughter with me to the office. Cancel the occasional class, maybe, to drive her to school. Heck, keep her home once in awhile. We’ll work it out. But pretty soon son will take classes at the university, and I’ll have to drive him during the workday. By his senior year, he should be driving, in which case I’ll just give him the car. After that, do it all again for daughter. Maybe one of those years of her high school-university transportation will be a sabbatical year for me. So if I break it down, there are just a few difficult semesters ahead, but not every single one of them. Then, after I get them into college, my work is done.
That’s all there is. That’s all that’s left. That and the pain. Any reminder of joy in the past gives way to pain, because the joy rested on hope, but all hopes have been dashed, so this pain wipes out the past joy and pleasure. But that’s like a door open wide to depression, and that won’t do, as I’m so doggedly determined. I must work through the pain, and I come out on the other end, spent from the weariness of it, with the pain behind me, for the moment. All that’s left is to wash the dishes, fortify these bodies with food, distribute their folded laundry, assure them they will be warm, they will be driven around and picked up, they will get their pencil sharpener and graphing calculator. Let them know they are cared for. Let them know they are loved. And that’s all there is.