Published on March 24th, 2020 | by Dana Robinson


On Brevity

It was unseasonably cold that day for early spring in Dallas. Mom called to ask if I thought she should make the four-hour drive to see me. Did I need her? I said “yes.”

Bryan was at work, as it was a Friday, and I was enduring my prescribed bed rest, although we all knew the precaution was most likely futile. I flipped through the endless channels on the bedroom television, daytime soap operas, twenty-four hour news programs, home shopping, home buying, and home decorating shows, finding nothing whatsoever that could divert my attention for more than a few minutes away from my own body. My swollen abdomen, my falling temperature, and stomach cramps were all no longer ignorable. The flesh is always so very present with us.

My toes were freshly pedicured and painted a happy color. Congratulatory greeting cards lay on the bedside table, as did my bible and the basal body temperature journal I had been meticulously keeping for years. It had been a few months since I had picked that up and I had almost forgotten about it. Today, however, I remembered it anew.

The bedroom clock, also permanently and purposely visible from my pillow-top perch, was hovering at the very top of my consciousness. The singular act of waiting has the power to slow the dripping of time, drop after tiny drop.

Photo by Walter A. Aue

I recalled the joyous phone calls of only a few months before, as I steeled myself to dial those same numbers, but with a very different message this time. After a few false starts, one or two rings before a tearful back-out and hang-up, I decided just to let Bryan or Mom handle it.

When Mom arrived she began doing what she does, loads of forgotten laundry, cleaning of a neglected kitchen and cooking of real food, a mother’s food meant for her child whose body needs comfort and nourishment. I tried to nap as much as possible, but sleep was beyond reach.

By Saturday morning, my body seemed to be in full cooperation with the plan, but my mind and spirit were still at war with it. I got up early in the morning, just after the sun had come up, walked into my closet, knelt down beside the little brown shoe polish stain, and poured my broken heart out before God. I could hear movements around the house, my husband letting the dog out, my mom making coffee in the kitchen, the dryer running, but I lingered by the little carpet stain as long as I could, gaining the strength I needed to face what I knew this day held for me.

Even though I was not hungry, I ate the buttery eggs, the crispy bacon and lightly browned toast so lovingly prepared. I bathed in the lavender salts that Mom suggested might relax my body, and then I dressed in the warm and comfortable clothes of someone who has no plans for the day.  

At 12:00 Heather’s baby shower would be starting. It was her second in only two years and I was one of the hostesses. We had been planning it for weeks and all of my friends would be there. I had bought a thoughtful gift—an adorable lime green and red dress with matching bonnet and socks—and it was beautifully wrapped, but I would not be at the shower today. Instead I would ask Jill to deliver my gift for me. She, too, was expecting her second child.

A little before noon, when the sun was high in the sky and shining brightly through the windows, Mom decided to run to the store and pick up a few things. Bryan was sitting at the kitchen table doing a little work. Our terrier, Maggie, was lying in the middle of the floor napping. It was completely quiet in the house, except for Bryan’s soft tapping on the keys of his laptop. 

Photo by Nick Harris

In the stillness of that moment I began to feel the first distinct pains of inevitability. As my body sent waves of truth to my mind, the protests finally stopped and I found the strength to surrender. I silently walked, all alone, into our bathroom and let go of what I had been desperately trying to hold on to.

When it was over, I sat on the floor and stared at all the colors, the red and the purple and gauzy white, the very image of a fetus just as I had seen in science books and my weekly updates from babycenter.com. I sat there wondering what to do next. Should we bury it? Somehow retrieve it to give to my doctor? I had no idea what was within the guidelines of acceptable behavior in a situation like this.

I prayed again, an attempt to overcome ignorance or possibly my lack of a grip on reality. Then, I stood up, said goodbye to the child I had asked for, and flushed.

I walked into our sunny little kitchen where my husband was still sitting, hugged him from behind and whispered into his ear that it was over. He held me for a few moments, tightly, and then we both let go. We shared the grief together in some ways, shared the loss equally, but I owned the privilege of experience outright. That is how I know her name was Hope.

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About the Author

Dana Robinson is a writer living and working in the Bayou City, Houston, Texas. Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle, she has been moving farther and farther south her entire adult life, eventually landing quite happily on the Gulf Coast. For work, she is a ghostwriter and copywriter. For play, she writes essays and manages a Houston-centric online magazine called Just Vibe Houston.

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