The Stairs

These stairs and I have a tense relationship.  It’s not my fault.  Sometimes these things just happen.

We used to see each other all the time, outside the Women’s Center.  Three pregnancies in four years, I got to know them well.  We met when I was too impatient to wait for the elevator.  Please don’t ask a pregnant lady to wait for one more thing.  Soon, I could travel them by muscle memory, and chose them even when I couldn’t see my feet.

From the top of the parking garage, I’d descend them on my way to doctors’ offices and childbirth classes, an awkward spiral, all knees and elbows.  They led me to my promised land — the sacred place where I learned to count in weeks instead of months, how to clean a freshly knotted bellybutton, and that women really do have babies every day.

Worn smooth, steady and predictable, this passageway delivered comfort in the midst of constant change.  These stairs were my place of winding and unwinding, rushing and waiting, giving in and toughing out.

I’d enter in, tune out the chaos and barrel down on the reason for my visit.  Down I’d go.  Right-Left.  Dot-Dash.  Lub-Dub.  Lub-Dub.  Lub-Dub.  The letter “A” in Morse code.  The walls would echo back in complete agreement with the heartbeat of my feet.

I’d choose the stairs for my return climb too, spirits soaring from the excitement of being one step closer to my due date.  Dash-Dash, Dash-Dash, taking two at a time.  I’d grab the rail and push away the pain.  You’re almost there.  Don’t forget to breathe.  On the best days, black and white ultrasound pictures streamed from my hand, a banner raised high.

And on it went with each visit.  Down and Up.  Wind and unwind.

Even Stephen.  Or Stella.  Time would tell.

I always chose the stairs.

Until one day, I didn’t.

When something is ripped from your woman’s center can you even focus on the step right before you?

The ultrasound revealed no heartbeat, no growth.  The bundle I carried out the door babbled of steps to recovery and stages of grief, my film strip left on the cutting room floor.  I fled the place of life and death and broken wings and Please Excuse Our Dust.

They say my angel baby flew to heaven.

Angels don’t need to take the stairs.

I shuffled blindly to the parking garage, weighed down by the I’m So Sorry’s, and snubbed my trusted stairs.  The elevator doors closed in around me.  That felt wrong too.  Elevators are for mommies with babies in strollers.

This was my red button emergency.

I was raised against my will.  The doors parted and I recoiled, gasped for air.  I stepped out, turned my head and let the sun begin to dry my tears.

I never got to say goodbye.

*Inspiration sparked by the Monday writing prompts so generously provided by Amber Haines of www.therunamuck.com.

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The Necklace

I was the first female Best Man I had ever heard of when my only brother got married.  At the rehearsal dinner, with red carnations on the table and water rippling outside the window, he slipped me his gift.  I opened it on my lap, where it fought for space with my oversized napkin.  The looking down hid my teary eyes.  My husband squeezed my knee.

It was a simple silver locket with a butterfly etched on front.  Inside was a black and white photograph of us together, all bad haircuts and goofy grins.

“That’s his favorite,” his fiancee said from across the table as she looked on.

“It’s a great one of us,” I exhaled.

“No, that’s his favorite picture.”

____

My heart lurched back in time to the day he had dropped the A-bomb.

I don’t believe in God, and I never have,” read his email declaration.

Alone in my office, my heart exploded onto every surface.  I kicked off my pumps and buried my head into the crux of my dry-clean-only arm.  From the hall my boss’ voice asked, “Has someone died?”

Maybe.

How can he be an atheist and I never want to speak to him again and I want to grab him and hold him and force-love him until he wrangles free.  How can his genius mind be so dense and his overgrown heart be so cold and how do I just trust the Lord with his soul when his whole life I’ve been his Big Sister? 

____

I clipped the chain around my neck and ran my finger over the locket.  Did he pick this out himself?  Did he have any idea that the butterfly represents the hope of resurrection from the dead?  Jesus Christ raised in glory?

There are no happy accidents.

Did his thick fingers curl tight to lay our photograph inside this shared cocoon?  Does he see that this beauty can only be enjoyed when it’s split wide open?

I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. to write my speech.

I vowed to love him.  And trust Him.

I will bear witness.

*Inspiration sparked by the Monday writing prompts so generously provided by Amber Haines of www.therunamuck.com.

Write. Now.

My soul has thick bangs, coke-bottle glasses and a plastic black mustache.  It flies under the radar and over the rainbow to give us wallflowers a good name.

I am an observer.  I am the last to raise my hand.  I hear between the lines.

But.

I cannot ignore this pull to pen and paper, this process that owns me.  These jots on scraps that swirl about my head like Pig Pen’s dust cloud.

Word puzzles that show this Quiet Girl that her voice can be bold.

Now is not a convenient time to declare myself a writer.  I’ve nearly perfected my disguise.

Still, this is my time to write.