Sunday, March 4, 2012
Sometimes. . .
When the doctor told us that our unborn child had a condition that was incompatible with life, that our child would not live long after he or she was born, the dreams I had for that child came crashing down around me. The clothes that I had purchased would never be worn. The hopes that I had for him would never be realized. Though I know and accept that Gabriel was everything God intended him to be, and that he will continue to achieve all that God wants him to achieve, his loss is still devastating. I still think sometimes about the moments that I will not have with him. I still love him, and he is still missing from my life.
Four years ago today, I went on my first date with Ben. We went to dinner at the Lazy Dog restaurant on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach, then went for drinks at Johnnys. Someone played "Misery and Gin" on the jukebox. When I marveled that someone would play the song, my favorite Merle Haggard song, he shared with me that he had played it. Today as I look back on that memory, I guess I wonder how I could be so devastated by what happened in my home this morning.
This morning my husband told me unequivocally that our marriage is over, that he intends to move out as soon as possible, and that he wants to proceed with the divorce that he signed for yesterday afternoon. My dreams again fell apart. I stared at the man who, four years ago, had fought for my attention and the chance to take me on a date, and wondered how he could look so empty and cold as he dealt me this blow. How had he become such a heartless monster? And how could I have been foolish enough to believe that love would be enough to get us through this?
On Thursday night in departure of character for me, I sang a duet at karaoke night with my friend Brad, previously divorced and now a recent widower from his second marriage, who has been talking with me about how to know when it's "over." We sang a Don Henley/Patty Smythe song called "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough." Brad and I had talked about the song before, and he discovered that few people were familiar with the song, but that I was and maybe we should sing a duet. Brad, who has demonstrated himself to be quite the performer since his wife's passing, seemed concerned with making sure we sounded just right. But as I sang the words all I could think about was that I was there alone, unsure of where my husband was that night, certain that he was relieved to be anywhere but with me, wondering what I ever did to him to cause his feelings to change entirely, and asking myself how I could be so very stupid that I could keep hanging on and hoping that as far gone as I knew my husband's feelings were getting, I could love him enough to bring him back.
I wonder sometimes what life would be like if I had induced labor with Gabriel early, within the first month that he was diagnosed with his fatal defect. Would Ben and I have tried for another baby right away, and would it have happened for us? Would I be holding that baby in my arms right now? Would he still have checked out on me, or has he checked out on me to punish me for following my own conscience and never worrying too much about what he wanted. Because I really didn't. I knew what I wanted to do -- what I was compelled to do, really -- with Gabriel, and Ben was welcome to come along with us, and I hoped that he would, and I hoped that he would also feel it was right, and I hoped that he would take the opportunity to love and bond with Gabriel, but if he didn't, I still would have kept my baby and given him every opportunity to survive. Even now, as my heart is breaking, I do not regret the journey with Gabriel, and I know I never will.
Besides the obvious moral reasons for keeping Gabriel, I knew that carrying Gabriel to term might be my only opportunity to carry and deliver a child of my own. I didn't forsee a split with Ben, I just learned a hard lesson about not taking anything for granted, and I wouldn't take for granted that I would be able to get pregnant again. Indeed, among the hopes and dreams that I had for my future with Ben was more brothers and sisters for Gabriel, in particular, a sister who I have already named, who I can see clearly in my head. I wonder now how much of that was just my mind's desparate attempt to sustain me in my grief. I don't take for granted that I will be able to have my marriage annulled, that even if I do I will ever find someone again (it seemed like such a miracle when I found Ben), and that even if I do, that I will ever have children again. I hope and pray that I will, but I hoped and prayed that Ben and I would survive this, that we wouldn't be another one of the statistics that people are always trying to soothe me with, and that wasn't enough. Yes, yes, I know that the odds of surviving the loss of our son were not in our favor. But that is of no comfort now. We are not just a number. We are Ben and Andrea, and we loved each other very much, once.
I want to hate Ben. I am angry that he won't try. I am angry that he is abandoning me. I am angry that I must lose my husband, after I have already had to say goodbye to my son. I am deeply wounded by his complacency, and the ease with which he would tell me, "It's over." I know that he is somewhere on this day, this anniversary of our first date, ironically stewing in his own misery and gin, and I hope that the day comes soon that he realizes that he let something and someone very special get away -- that he LET it happen. That he didn't just let it happen, that he pushed and pushed and pushed me and even as I resisted he pushed even harder.
In the early weeks after Gabriel's diagnosis, Ben drank heavily. One evening I wrote a letter to him, telling him that drinking would not heal the hole in our son's head. Even now, no amount of drinking will bring our son back from the dead. But the amount of love I have for my child couldn't heal him either. It can't bring him back. It can't save us now. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes, love just ain't enough.