for emma

In 2012 I wrote about the miscarriage I had when I was twenty, but I re-wrote it tonight after engaging in a lengthy abortion debate earlier.  During the course of debating about reproductive rights, I will inevitably bring it up and add that, had nature not taken its course, I would have terminated the pregnancy.  I felt no guilt, only relief.  The end of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is not always tragic and life-altering; it is, in fact, the least traumatic thing I experienced while growing up.  We need to be the authors of our own destiny whenever possible, and there is no room for shame in that.

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I had nothing to give her.

My entire life still ached, a deep, searing pain that caused my heart to beat with a limp.  I still awoke in the dead of night sheathed in sweat, choking on panic.  I ate toddler-sized portions of food while sitting naked in front of a mirror, berating myself and frantically counting calories, rubbing my thumbs along my jutting hipbones as though I were making a desperate wish.  I would often spend days not leaving my bed, chain-smoking and scrawling poem after poem into sketchbooks, impossibly long hair tangled and wild, un-brushed, a restless spirit hungry, so hungry, wanting to swallow the world whole.

I was no one’s mother.

She was like being underwater, the roar of letting her go rushing through my ears, an upturned seashell. She was a Rorschach pattern of red imprinting itself on white panties, a pain seizing my insides and wringing them out like a towel. All I could offer up was a deluge of tears streaming as quickly as my blood, her blood.

When the waves subsided, I was left empty.  The tide receded with a sigh and left behind a peaceful relief, an invisible and empathetic hand stroking my sweaty forehead.  I had no way to guide her, still so lost myself; two babes in the woods, scavenging for our next meal.  I wasn’t in love. I couldn’t be whole for her when so many pieces of myself were still broken and jagged.

The prayer of thanks was effortless.  I was so grateful to have been spared this choice, knowing full well what my path would have been.  Behind my eyes I watched her go and fade into the line of our horizon, a memory tucked in sweetly to sleep.