Thursday, September 16, 2010

Memories Untwisted and Revealed

I had to take another look at the dates on the yearbook photo that the very nice woman at Spartanburg High School sent me. It states that it was the yearbook for the 1961-1962 school year. My daughter was conceived on my birthday in July, 1961 and born, 40 weeks later, in early April of 1962. I withdrew from school not long after this picture was made. I was pregnant in that picture. I wonder if I was in collusion with "teen Robin's" denial when I first published this picture. Now I know why those eyes were so sad. This was another memory break-through...the kind that hurts.

Now I understand, even more, why it has been so hard for me to look at this photo. At the moment this picture was taken, in September of 1961, I was praying for a miracle. I was hoping with every fiber of my being that what I knew to be true was not so. Not too long after this, I felt that first tiny, faint movement inside. The mother was emerging from the chrysalis of a girl.

What I came to understand as the months progressed was that I had received a miracle. That miracle was growing inside me, resting under the beating of my heart and listening to the whooshing of my blood through its vessels. That miracle was being nourished by the food I ate and the air I breathed and was a part of me in a way that only an expectant mother can comprehend. However unplanned, inopportune or inappropriate to society, it was MY miracle. It was formed inside ME, not another woman and NOT FOR another woman.

As my breast enlarged and started leaking colostrum, I was also being prepared emotionally and mentally to nurture this child. I grew very protective of that little life inside me. I would sit and move my hands over my growing abdomen and talk to the little one in my womb. I told her and myself all manner of pretty fantasies that always ended in us riding off into a glorious sunset, together, Mother and Child and, just perhaps, her father, repentant and loving us. Sometimes, when reality would intrude, I would cry, but quietly, because I didn't want my baby to hear and be sad or frightened.

I had truly loved the father of this little one. This baby was almost like a gift he gave me before he left to spend time with family in California for the remainder of the summer. I was unprepared for his rejection of both of us when he returned.

And, as much as I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable, I knew I was going to lose my miracle. That is why I demanded, threatened and behaved like a spoiled child in order to see her on a regular basis while I was in the hospital after her birth. Those moments, with her in my arms, were among the most valued in my life. I can, to this day, recall the small weight of her on my chest, her infant eyes looking into mine, her greedy little mouth seeking the nipple. So why did I forget that I was pregnant in that picture?

I guess we could put it down to the confusion of age and the passage of time. But it has been very hard for me to look into the eyes of that young mother-to-be. I didn't want to see the sadness, the anxiety, the pain that was there. Some painful memories never dull with time. I can even remember how labor felt with my two oldest. It is as if every memory, no matter how hurtful, I hold close to me because those memories are all I have left of my deleted motherhood.

The mind plays tricks on us. My subconscious wish in the early years following the loss of my two oldest children, was to forget. So some memories were clouded over the years, but I couldn't forget it all. And with reunion and the subsequent revelations about what happened to me and to my children at the behest of an unjust and judgmental society, the clouded memories have become clear and distinct. I guess this one was among the last bits of sadness to find its way to my fully conscious mind.

The sad teen in the photo above is a mother-to-be, sad in her heart, anxious in her mind and holding a miracle in her womb. She needs all the love I can give her. She's had a rough time of it.


Laura in Mobile said...

Wow, this was difficult to read, as you express that pain all too well. But, you do so beautifully and powerfully, as always. I could "ditto" so many of the things you write in here, particularly how your mind and heart made you remember every moment of labor, etc., knowing it might be all you had. This was my experience, as well.

I wish I could go back in time and make everything all right for that beautiful young lady with the sad, haunted eyes.

Sandy Young said...

Your post, as often happens, rang a bell that had been tinkling in my mind a lot recently, too. How our minds protect us from the sad, tragic truth!

I know that there is a picture out in my storage of me at 4 months pregnant, with swollen breasts and sad eye, knowing the child in my womb, a secret to my family yet, was in danger of being taken from me. I can't go look for the picture.

I can't go look for the set of pictures taken by my father weeks before my pregnancy occurred, when my son's father and I posed for him, smiling, happy, in love. They are too paiful, even now. I want to find them. I know they exist, but they will have to wait for a later day. The CONFIDENTIAL Senior Class picture did me in. Who knows what those will do.

Later, when I am stronger, when I can again look that young woman in the eyes and tell her I am sorry. I wish....

Stephanie said...

I am sitting at my desk at work crying, after reading this. Oh my gosh...

The last two lines really got me..."She needs all the love I can give her. She's had a rough time of it."

She sure does...

Kathy said...

I could say "ditto" too, and you brought tears to my eyes for all of us that were young and alone and abandoned by those who we thought loved us and who we loved. So many of these feelings and thoughts are so inside my head, over and over again, still hidden from the world, that it seems odd to me to see someone else express them. How did you know what I was thinking? I was so alone. Today will be a day of reflection of that sad pain and loss. And yet now with a realization that there are kindred spirits out there that know my innermost feelings.

Just Me said...

Another heartbreaking but beautiful and eloquent post.