I hate myself for thinking that in this moment. But she is and I can’t take my eyes off her. I can almost feel her pain, I wonder if she can feel mine too. Some days I wonder if she feels as connected to me as I do to her. It’s a question I’ve wanted to ask for over a year, but it’s not a fair question, and so I keep it to myself.
None of this is fair to her.
I can see the slightest bump in her stomach, where our baby is growing for its final hours. I want nothing more than to reach out and rest my hand on it. On her. On the baby, we’ve both cried over for 6 weeks.
6 weeks. 6 of the most difficult weeks I’ve ever had.
I don’t know how we got here. Not just to this very moment, but with us; her and I. She will tell you that it’s impossible for a human to truly be in love with two people at the same time, and I used to think that too. But I am in love with her beyond what words could explain. Not on purpose but maybe not by accident either. With her, I often feel like she has been in every life I’ve ever lived. Like we didn’t just meet when we did, but that we are getting to know each other again in our new bodies. I wonder if she feels the same as we drive to the clinic, but I don’t ask.
The truth is, I don’t know what to say to her to make any of this ok. She seems to have crawled back into her quiet place, I’ve watched her do this a lot since we found out about the baby. Staring out the window, watching the world, I can see tears forming in the corner of her eye. I want to wipe them away for her, but I don’t.
I look out my window at the next red light and watch the world too. I think about how strange it feels that no matter what is happening inside this car, everything outside of it is business as usual. People driving to work. People walking their dogs. Sitting on a patio with friends, enjoying a morning coffee. I wonder where she goes when she gets quiet and what she thinks, but I don’t ask.
We are standing outside the door of the clinic, waiting for security to let us in. I’ve never done this before and my nerves have already caused multiple trips to the washroom this morning. We both have to go to the washroom, I’m not sure I’ll make it unless we are let in soon. After getting through the first door, we go up the stairs to another door and another buzzer. More waiting.
Can I help you?
“I have an appointment at 10”, she says, before we are allowed into the reception area. Security is tight here and we both must show our ID before he lets us in.
I ask where the washroom is and make a run for it while she sits to fill out the package they gave her. I make it just in time, but the nerves don’t allow for much relief. I catch my reflection in the mirror as I wash my hands, today, I look as different as I feel. I take a minute to catch my breath but I worry about leaving her alone for too long. I can feel her pushing me away, but I can’t bear to leave. I need her, and I know she needs me too. I splash some cold water on my face and wipe it away before I turn to leave.
I can see that she is getting emotional as I walk towards her; filling out form after form after form in a pile of what feels like a never-ending series of questions. She looks up at me, catches my eye for a second, and then back down.
I’m so hungry; I can’t believe I forgot to eat in the rush to get her this morning. I had plans to grab something so that I wouldn’t have to eat in front of her. In preparation for the procedure, she wasn’t allowed to eat after her dinner last night. Now, it wouldn’t be fair, so I’ll wait.
Between the hunger and the nerves, I feel like I’m going to throw up.
They call her name and she gets up to go to an office. I look at her to see if she needs me to come in with her, but she walks away before I have a chance to speak. The door closes behind her and I look around at the other women here waiting. There are 5 of them, some are barely old enough to be considered a woman. This is something I may have imagined experiencing at their age, but not now. Not in my late 30’s. Not with a successful career. Not after having a child of my own. Yet, here we are.
Some of the women here are with their partners, some with friends, one with who appears to be her mother. I can’t imagine what they must be thinking. Feeling. Being an adult is supposed to equip you with the tools needed to survive times like these, but I’m not entirely sure what I’m thinking and feeling either. Maybe it’s really the other way around; the more you know about the life, the less ready you are.
The door opens and my heart stops for a second as I watch her walk towards me. She smiles. I smile back. I love her. If she looked at me for more than a second, I think she would be able to see just how much. But she looks away again and stays quiet.
She is here for only a couple minutes before getting called into the next room. Then, she’s gone again.
I watch the young men in the room, with their arms wrapped tightly around their girlfriends. One is crying, the other looks terrified. They may be young, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are in love. I remember that love. I think about my own child, and I hope that she never has to experience a room like this one.
She comes out and grabs her bag, I know what room she is going into next.
I’ve been so concerned with her feeling alone in all this, that I haven’t realized how alone I am. She has created a life of love and support around her, and I know she doesn’t need me now as much as I need her. I want to tell her, but I don’t.
And then she is gone.
Some of the other women in the waiting room have been called into various rooms now. The mother goes inside with her daughter, some of the others do too. When they grab their bags, no one is allowed to follow. There are no cell phones allowed in here, and I think about how much some of us would benefit from that distraction. A quick game of candy crush, browsing through social media to check out all the great things everyone is doing at this exact moment. No cell phones allowed. I brought a book to read, but I keep reading the same page over and over. Nothing is distracting enough as I try to imagine what she may be experiencing in there.
It’s been an hour and I haven’t heard anything. I suspect this is one of those cases where no news is good news, except the good news here is not good news at all.
I walk over to the receptionist and ask how long it normally takes, he lets me know that she will be out soon. I know she will want a coffee when this is all over, so I tell him I’m stepping out to grab one for her. I saw a Starbucks down the street, which should give me plenty of time to be back before she gets out. I get inside and wait in line, business as usual here too. My phone beeps and it’s a message from her telling me she is finished and walking towards the Starbucks.
Shit! The last thing I wanted was for her to face an empty waiting room after all of this. I call and she answers, just before she walks into the Starbucks. I hand her the coffee, and smile. She’s back in the quiet place, but she takes the coffee and forces a smile back.
Back in the car, on the drive home, I ask her if she believes in reincarnation and how she feels about the afterlife. She says she believes that we come back to live and experience many different lives. I ask how she knows that, and she tells me she just feels it.
I want to tell her that I have felt that since the moment I first saw her, in this life. I want to explain how my soul recognized her, even though my eyes didn’t. That feeling that she had been in every life of mine before this. That love.
But I don’t.