the things she could not carry
October 5, 2010 § 2 Comments
He hates mornings when the evidence of past lives and old moisture hang in the air. On those days, even if the sky is overcast, he knows he should be running outdoors. But as he turns onto 9th Street, instead of the freshness of wet grass, dog urine threatens to stifle him. “Too many damn dogs,” He lamented. He was never a dog person, and couldn’t imagine owning any animal other than his Canadian Sphinx, Luanne. If not for the coffee shops and restaurants, or Prospect Park, and the family oriented nature of the neighborhood, he might have reconsidered buying the brownstone. But he and Abidemi thought it would be a good place to plant roots.
These days, everything is a reminder of the life he wishes to forget. Sprinting faster, he zeroes in on the lactic acid build-up in his legs. Turning onto 10th street, then Prospect Park West and finally the park, he avoids the joggers’ course. They ran there. Instead, he maneuvers the tiny pathways within. Sometimes running across the green until he is back where he started, outside the park and wrapped in the dog piss that irritates him. He does this today, but makes a brief stop to get bagels and cream cheese before the throng of families and their dogs flock the area.
Back in the house, he tries to air the rooms then brews a pot of coffee. He couldn’t understand why Abby spent so much money on Blue Mountain and sometimes jokingly accused her of being a coffee elitist. To which she had replied, “I only love good things and that’s a compliment to you.” He still remembers that day; the mocking expression on her face, and the hint of Vertiver and Sandalwood lingering in the space between them. He had pulled her close and kissed her forehead.
Luanne purring against his leg breaks his concentration. He dispenses dried food into her bowl and reaches for a mug to pour his joe. Abby’s bright orange cup seizes him. He pushes past another bout of memories, grabs a plain white mug and his bagel, then heads to the garden level. It’s the only floor they had completely renovated. The first half served as Abby’s dance studio and the other, his office. Many times he sat at his desk and watched her through the glass doors that separated their space. Her body, lithe and beautiful.
Taking a bite of his bagel and two sips of his coffee, he wills his thoughts to gather in the present. “Power up your computer” he commands himself. These days he thinks out loud and has to encourage himself to do even the simplest things, too afraid he might forget how to function. Another bite of his bagel, and a few sips from the mug, he roves through his Gmail; sending messages to his partners at the firm, a few clients, his assistant, before stumbling upon a notification for an upcoming show by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. He considers cancelling his subscription then weighs it against purchasing a ticket, palms his face, sighs, then runs his hands through his hair. It resurrects the feel of her voice, her fingers where his hands are now.
She was always definite in her decision making. Something he had grown accustomed to and unknowingly took comfort in. So, on the day they sat at the edge of the bathtub and she said, “I’m keeping it,” he believed the finality of those words. They’d called family and friends to share the news. She craved Hummus and would sit in front of the television scooping spoonfuls of it into her mouth. Some days she was a burst of sunshine. Others, a hormonal tyrant. Together, they made waist beads for her expanding belly and an album of sonograms. He watched motherhood tattoo it’s marks on her derriere, she worried it would stretch to her abdomen. He kissed it when they made love. They named the baby Isoke, satisfying gift, and counted the time until her birth in days; months made it seem so far away.
Closer to the end of her second trimester, her mood plummeted. Whenever she wasn’t agitated, she was withdrawn. He thought it was the hormones and maybe the loud construction noises. So he spent less time fixing things and more of it attending to her. Until one day, with teary eyes she said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
“Do what?” He inquired.
“What do you mean you can’t do the pregnancy anymore?
“I’m always sad and I don’t think it’s normal.”
He wrapped his arms around her, and promised that they would get through it together.”
The next day she told him she made an appointment to see a therapist. He offered to join her but she insisted on going alone. Every Monday and Thursday for three weeks he watched her leave the house at the same time. On those days she was herself and they were fine. But on the others, she shut him out, and it frayed his nerves. Sometimes they fought.
“I know it’s hard on you but don’t you think it’s hard on me too?” He asked.
“What’s hard on you Brad? Being supportive to me?”
“No! Not that! Seeing you like this Abby and you won’t let me in!”
“Do you think I like being this way?!”
“I know you don’t. But there must be something I can do.” He offered softly.
“I told you already, you’re fine. It’s me! Why can’t I be like the happy pregnant women? ” She asked between tears.
“Abs, it’ll be over in 3 months.”
“I don’t think I can feel this way for that long. I’m an alien in my own body. It’s as if it doesn’t want me in it!”
“3 months is 90 days baby. We can do…”
“No Bradley! You can do it but I can’t anymore!” She interrupted him.
“What do you mean you can’t anymore?”
She paused, then said in a small voice, “I’m going crazy. I have to get it out of me.”
“What do you mean get it out! Abby have you lost your mind?! This is our baby you’re talking about.”
“I know but I’m afraid that one day I won’t just look at the knife, or I might really jump on the track.”
“Did you discuss this with the therapist?”
“I did, but the thoughts still come back. They always come back. I have to get this baby out of me.” She cried.
“Abby, there must be another option.” He pleaded.
In the months that followed the late term abortion, he watched her breasts leak onto the pillows, watched her place warm rags around them and amidst the love and sadness, an abhorrence took residence. She saw it too. And even though she was a seemingly better version of her pregnant self, many times he saw her standing at the door of the nursery buckled over and sobbing. They would do this for 4 months until she decided to move in with her parents. He almost begged her to stay so that they could lean on each other’s sadness. Instead, he drove her to the airport and promised to mail the things she could not carry.