The tears didn’t surprise her.
It was their volume and velocity. She didn’t know there was that much grief left inside of her.
Grief over the realization that love does not conquer all.
A grief that her daughter will never have a sister or a brother.
A grief that she will never conceive another child.
A grief that they will never bring another child into the world.
A grief that she didn’t try harder.
A grief that she didn’t yell sooner.
A grief that she failed.
Grief that she didn’t savor the moments that she should have.
A grief that she didn’t play Barbies every time she was asked.
A grief that she will only be a mother to one.
Grief over the guilt that she feels when other women are motherless.
A grief that in its totality is moments, events, missed opportunities together encompassing a world of regret that when the tears began to fall she felt their enormity.
It was a sadness she never knew, buried beyond recognition.
A grief she hadn’t felt in death.
A grief she hadn’t felt with any loss.
This grief over things for which she didn’t know she longed.
And now, on this day, this Saturday in April when taxes and a soon to be vacant home are foreboding, a final chapter of the last place they shared as a family, finality to the last tax year part of which they were husband and wife – she finds herself standing not far from the precipice she feels now that she will surely fall off of, when moments earlier she was in denial she had traversed.
Why regret what she can not have?
Why long for a future not destined to be hers?
Because she was a child once too.
A child with dreams.
She played with the Barbies her daughter played with.
She had the same dreams.
She was once a child who thought she would grow up to be a mommy to more than one child.
And she didn’t.
She was a child once who thought she would grow up to be a mommy to many children just as her mother was to her and two brothers and two sisters.
But she couldn’t and she didn’t.
She was a child once who thought she would be in a family, whose children yelled loud and hard not out of anger but for attention.
She and her siblings yelled a joyous yell telling the world they were loved, and declaring to the world, look, look at us, this is what love looks like.
She was once a child whose buttocks moved from the first stair back and up, with each thump on the next riser she softly proclaimed “I love you”, only to stop when one or both parents returned the declaration.
Those stairs whose gutters were filled with books, and socks, and shoes and nonsense; so many nights the sight of which made her father flip out, he would knock it all down to the hallway after the children ignored their mother’s countless commands to clean the stairs.
Love in a three bedroom one bathroom home with two adults, five children and the occasional stray pet was messy. Love and chaos. Bedrooms and hallways crammed with dressers. Basements filled with overflowing piles of hand me down clothes waiting to be laundered or folded or ironed or put away, second-hand furniture that made up a mish-mosh like family room, a work area made of a hand sawn, nailed, and hammered workbench, a secret play area under the stairs, with potato sacks and 100-gallon laundry canisters one wall of which was partially covered by a slate chalkboard once used to play school with the table and chairs left behind by the home’s first owners, and moved downstairs when the dining room became a nursery. Cedar closets with panels punched out where hidden and never meant to be occupied crawl spaces became private worlds where cigarettes were sneaked and smoked underneath and beside scratchy pillows of asbestos insulation that filled the rafters.
Yes, she grieved.
A grief that bore cries riddled with tears, shrieks inaudible because of clenched jaws that strenuously stood stoically underneath and beside a snot-filled nose. Glasses discarded when the tears made sight too challenging.
A grief she could not define.
A grief she could not measure.
A grief with no solace in sight.
It sucked. Had she a microphone it would capture the steady tears and pronounce each piddle’s emergence from her tear ducts, as it ran down the raw freckled cheeks, the salty drops slipped into her mouth or right over and past her lips, onto and around her chin then onto the floor below. The journey ended.
Grief because those now audible tears are no longer a secret.
A grief that once borne cannot be resurrected, because its birth is a beacon of hope, signaling that this pain will soon pass.