Excerpt #4 Dukin’ it out with God

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The young man I got involved with as I left the church was a real party animal. (Let’s call him Rico to protect his identity, shall we?) He was a break dancer who worked out daily to keep his well defined physique in tiptop shape. I fell hard for him right away, but he wasn’t ready to settle down. Regardless of that fact, he moved in with me when I became pregnant less than six weeks after our first encounter.

He could get really nasty when he was drinking, but, of course, with my background of abuse and getting bullied and such, I thought he was mean to me because I wasn’t good enough for him. I felt lucky just to have him in my life, period, regardless of how he behaved, even when I learned of all the other girls he had on the side. It seemed the more I loved him, the more I hated me.

Somewhere around this time, I had a strange dream: There was a lone, narrow stairway jetting upwards in the darkness. At the top of the stairs was a partly open door with light streaming through it. I began to climb. In one arm, I held a baby girl, in the other a bag of groceries.
About a fourth of the way up the steps, my arms starting going numb with all the weight they had to bear, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it with both arms full. For some reason I decided to place the baby girl on a step and proceed to the top with the groceries. Absurd, isn’t it? Because anyone would leave the groceries and take the baby, but I wasn’t permitted.
The baby was very still, and I thought about that as I continued up the steps. She wouldn’t fall down; she wasn’t moving at all. That sort of comforted me. Yet I strained to make my way to the door so I could leave the groceries and go back and get her!
On up a little further there was a chubby baby boy, wiggling and playing and making me feel very anxious that he would tumble down those stairs. I was stronger now, so I scooped up the baby and went on up the steps. As I went, I fretted about going back for the infant girl, but before I reached the top to leave the baby boy and the groceries, I woke up.
Little did I know at the time how significant that dream would be in the months and years to come.

The war raged on between Rico and me. He couldn’t claim to love me, but he couldn’t make himself leave me, either. I didn’t really want him to go; I wanted him to straighten up and become the man of my dreams. I was willing to give him time to grow, but I knew my children could be destroyed in the process. While I had known them as joyful, carefree, precocious kids, I was watching them turn into little ones with sad faces who stayed outside all day just to avoid the turmoil in our home.

Their grades started slipping, and my once curious son, who soaked up knowledge like a sponge, began acting out in strange and destructive ways, while my little girl became more and more withdrawn and shy.

I am not going to tell you all the details of the relationship between my ex and me. Let’s just say it was violent, co-dependant in the worst way, and that the cops would not help me. NOPE. They would NOT. They made fun of me, asked me if I was, “On the rag,” when I called for help, told me they were tired of my, “petty arguments,” asked me, when they found me on the floor at one point, if he had, “slapped me around a little bit.” They were GUYS who thought I was just a disobedient woman. I’m telling you this because I get so tired of people asking me why I didn’t just leave. First of all, leave to where? It was MY apartment where MY things were close to MY kids’ school! His name wasn’t even on the lease, but the cops would NOT make him leave. I could NOT make him leave. He could NOT make himself leave. We were a mess. I had no real income, and I was stuck.
The crazy thing was, I STILL LOVED HIM. But at the time, I couldn’t think of one redemptive quality about him. Sad, isn’t it?

My baby was due in June, on my birthday, in fact. I was not a happy pregnant woman, because I thought it made me helpless and unattractive while he went on like a single person enjoying the good life. Blah. However, I was happy to be having a baby. I did what most pregnant women do, daydreamed about the baby’s first day home when he or she would meet his siblings. They were excited, too, to be having a new baby brother or sister. I thought about his first day of kindergarten, college, getting married, and having his own children. I thought about all the things his siblings would be able to teach him.

May 23rd I got up with cramps in my belly, feeling something just wasn’t right. Then I felt water dribble down my leg, and I knew! I was in labor. I got a hold of Rico’s aunts and they took me to the hospital while my kids stayed with some of his other relatives. (They were so good to me!) Someone went to find Rico at work to tell him I was having the baby.

The first thing the nurse did when I got settled in my hospital bed was hook me up to a monitor. She moved the monitor around on my belly a few times, looking puzzled. Then her face went gray. Her nurse’s training kicked in, and she said calmly that she could not detect a heartbeat, but to hang tight, that it didn’t necessarily mean anything, and they would have to go an ultrasound. They tried to contact my doctor, but he was out of town. They would have to get in touch with whoever was covering for him.

I heard everything she was telling me, but through a fog. I started sinking into a kind of quicksand of fear and guilt. This is what I got for leaving the church. This is what I got for doing all the rotten things I did to make God mad at me. I lay there on that bed pleading with God, making deals with him, telling him I’d change if he let my baby live. But after a long time, lying there alone, a grim faced doctor appeared in the doorway and said, very dryly, “Well, the baby’s dead.”

I nodded my head. What could I say? I had asked God for a miracle, and he refused. I couldn’t blame him.
Rico did show up and acted like a fool. He was young, you know. He had never been through such a tragedy and didn’t know how to handle it.

The baby was a girl. I named her Sara Marie, “bitter princess.” She was perfect to look at her. Beautiful. You would never know anything was wrong. The nurse cleaned her up and put her under a warming lamp to give me time to recover from my long, hard labor. Then she brought my little girl into me, all wrapped up in a blanket and wearing a cap. I just stared at her. I wasn’t sure what to do. I had never touched a dead person before, and I was kind of scared. Yet my arms ached to hold her. The nurse, seeing the inner conflict on my face, plopped the baby in my arms. It was only then that the reality of the whole thing hit me, and I was able to cry.

My mom and dad were going through a divorce, so, even though my mom put in an appearance, she wouldn’t stay with me because my dad might show up. When my dad did show up, he couldn’t quite focus on my loss and pain because his was so overwhelming to him. He cried to me about the divorce and asked me to talk to mom. I forgive them. My point is, I didn’t get the support I needed from two of the most important people in my life because they were only human.

My maternal grandma had sent some money with Mom to help pay for the funeral clothes. I told Mom I wanted something lavender, “not dead clothes, Mom, alive clothes, like a christening gown.” I was still in shock, going through the motions, taking care of my dead baby the best I could. My maternal instincts were to care for her, and preparing a funeral was all I had.

that’s it for now. More later.

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