For all those reincarnation into another world stories when you’re a christian and don’t really believe in reincarnation….
Raising a Hero
I had always wanted a family. I knew it was impossible to expect perfect, especially in the day and age where %50 of marriages ended in divorce and too many kids were born out of wedlock or raised to single parents. I was one of those kids.
But I still had my extended family, which gave me enough of a taste to want. I had married aunts and uncles who showed me happiness could exist, love and all. My mom was always shipping me off to help watch kids when her sisters had new babies, or sometimes because she knew she couldn’t take care of me, at least at that time. It might sound heartless to outsiders, but it takes a lot of love and humility to recognize when you, yourself, are not up to the task of parenting.
And because of that, I thought I had grown up all right. I studied as much as I could about finding the right man. I did my best in school. That’s probably why studying was the only real talent I could lay claim to, but it led me to others. I learned nutrition, basic medical knowledge, and homemaking skills, all with my rather 1950s dream of being a domesticated housewife with a nameless number of children around my feet. I kept myself healthy, took care of what looks God saw fit to bless me with, dated around, and honestly thought I had made a good choice when I got married at twenty to a decent looking man with a promising computer career.
Then my first baby was born dead.
Ten months of carrying my little hope around, doing up the nursery, dreaming of little hands and little feet, rocking on the porch as I practiced singing lullabies—grey, cold, still, and wrapped in a thin hospital blanket.
Baby blues had nothing on me. I had looked forward to that baby so much, I’d viewed my husband with rosy glasses. I had ignored how long he was on the computer at nights. I had ignored how he couldn’t meet my sexual needs while pregnant, because he just ‘wasn’t attracted’ to pregnant me. I had ignored how often I didn’t know where he was. I ignored his drying attitude towards me.
My marriage got rocky. Dissatisfaction can do that. And I was determined that it was all because a hole in my heart sucked in any happiness I could have.
So I tried again. Second pregnancy miscarried as soon as I began to hope. Then the third. The fourth was extremely premature and left in a glass jar to float.
“Enough,” he said. “I’m done. Lillian, I’m seeing someone.”
How he thought the hospital room right after losing my fourth child was the right time to drop this bomb on me, I didn’t know.
“And you couldn’t divorce me before dating again, why?” I said, my devastation flailing and roaring in the distance like a storm still far away over the ocean, while I stood on the shore, still, motionless, and numb.
“I couldn’t just put a baby in you and abandon you, could I?” he said, having the gall to sound offended.
“I’m sure you could have resisted,” I said. “There’s no way I’m close to your porn girls.”
He stiffened at that, his face twitching.
“What?” I asked. “You think I didn’t know? Is your new girl a prostitute you called up too?”
“I did no such thing,” he snapped.
“I’m deeply amused at how you can sound like the wronged party here when you are the adulterer.”
“It wasn’t like you were fulfilling any of my needs anyways, obsessed with being fat and pregnant and sick all the time. How am I supposed to be turned on by that? Or by the fact you could hardly do anything around the house?”
I stared. Did he really just say all that? Holy crap, he did.
He seemed to catch himself. “I’m not saying that’s all you’re good for like some chauvinistic pig, but after a day of work it–it wears on you to come home and be expected to do all the house stuff too.”
“Yes,” I said, still dry as the desert. “You’re such a champion for women. So let’s go cheat on our wife instead of talking about all this with her to spread the joy, no, let’s pretend we’re having sex with porn models every night instead of with her, fat with my baby.”
He snarled. “I just did. I could have left you hanging. But I told you the truth, so there. And of course you still have to be sarcastic about it. Look, I’ll sign the divorce papers, I’ll even give you alimony.” He hesitated, and something that looked almost like guilt flickered across his face. “Look…Lillian…it just didn’t work out. This happens all the time. They call the first marriage a trial marriage, right? Just take it like that.”
But I couldn’t. The storm on the horizon had grown closer. I could feel the thunder shaking the ground beneath my feet. Any moment, the waterworks would come, threatening to flood me.
“I said I’d love you forever,” I said.
He said nothing to that. And his face had gone painfully blank.
“Call me if you need a ride.” He said after a long, empty moment. “I’ll be home, packing my stuff.”
And then he was gone.
I took a taxi home to a half empty house the next day. I spent a few days in a haze. There was crying. There was grief. There was a shattered world. An empty nursery. An empty bed.
And the most painful thing was that I believed in true love still. But it didn’t help me feel better. If anything, it made me feel worse, because it meant that I had just been stupid enough to pick a porn addicted, self-absorbed boy in a man’s body who had seemingly no problem with destroying me. That, or I was the problem. It takes two to tango, after all.
Perhaps…perhaps it just didn’t exist for me. Perhaps it didn’t exist for that one seemingly happily married aunt and uncle of mine and they just only pretended to be happy in front of me. Perhaps I had just grown up too broken from the start.
After who knows how long of grieving I did, filled with horrible blame towards him as well as myself, and all those dark, acidic feelings that come with such world-ending heartbreak, I picked myself up. It wasn’t a smooth pick up. It wasn’t even a confident one. But I managed to take a shower, tie up my hair, and step out into the sunlight.
A buttload of praying to God probably had a lot to do with it.
My still single mom standing on my doorstep also had something to do with it.
She patted my hollow cheeks and hugged me so tight my joints popped as she cried. She felt every bit of my pain. She demanded I moved back in with her, then proceeded to plan all sorts of horrible pranks on my ex. She helped me through the divorce process. She took me on many trips to the mountains, where she embarrassed me with her teenage boy humor if I got too sad, holding me and singing Indigo Girls if it got so bad that even embarrassment couldn’t save me (though how she thought fart jokes could heal a heart, I’d never know).
Because it wasn’t just a marriage I had lost. It had been four babies as well. And nothing, not even a new love, would ever bring them back. I’d lost myself, and the bits I’d managed to find again were hard to recognize.
I became rather religious in that time, not because I hoped to get a miracle, but simply because I was also wishing I had a dad at that moment with a rifle, and one up in heaven was as close as I’d get. Or maybe I wanted a bit of wisdom from someone supposedly all knowing. Or, maybe, just maybe, a life beyond this one where I could have all the babies I wanted. My own, beautiful little people to hold and comfort and love.
Because I dreamed of them, my babies. Long after I stopped dreaming of my ex, I still dreamed of my babies.
Preoccupation and progression were the best way to avoid the depression beast. I signed up for the local community college and started taking my general eds. I knew I wanted to do something with children. I wanted to ease and hold something that needed it, maybe because I couldn’t do it with myself. Becoming a pediatrician sounded the best, especially since my only talent was being able to study.
Just as I neared the end of my first semester, the old Toyota Echo my mother and I shared lost a wheel on the freeway. Like, complete disconnect from the axis, tire, rim, ball joint and all.
At 80 miles per hour, I flew. Time stopped in a glitter of shattered glass and sparking metal.
Then, there was nothing.