The sun was high in the sky, beaming down deathrays deep into my bones, and bouncing back off the snow, the day in December when I went to the abortion clinic.
I was six when my uncle Kirby died--that was the first time. I cannot remember his face at all, but I do remember a drunk man, who had zero difficulty laughing or associating with a small human like me. He was a grownup, but he did not coddle me as if I was not. Drunk-driving, it was, and his car was destroyed. My mother still has pictures in her photo albums of the wreck. No small wonder he died: say you had the ability to mould metal, by hand, into whatever shape you wanted. Like a superhero. Then, say you stood on top of the car, and spread your hands out, crucifixion style, and pulled both ways on each door, lightning-quick. The result would be what happened to uncle Kirby's car. It wasn't just destroyed, it was obliterated. There was almost nothing left. I remember that in one of the pictures, a decent clump of Kirby's hair looks as if it was staple-gunned to cracks in the windshield.
I wonder sometimes why my mother keeps these pictures. They're depressing.
The day of the abortion is unclear in my mind's eye (I cannot recall the date, but it might have been a Tuesday), because of all the mental blocks that have forced their way into my subconscious. I remember how bright and high the sun was, and I remember I was calm.
After all, that's the way it is when we go through horrible, traumatic experiences like this. We tell ourselves that this will hurt, but the pain will pass, in time. We fool ourselves into thinking we're okay. We can dumb down the experience and say that, instead of awful, hideous, and deplorable, this task is distasteful, a regret, God's cruel jape. After that, we only feel calm. Cool.
So, I guess that a lot of people don't like the whole idea behind abortion. I don't see why. It's only a cold, callous theft of a life before it has a chance to live.
No big deal.
The abortion clinic in my city is a dreary place. It has no windows, as such, and you have to be buzzed in. The door is an immensely heavy thing, probably an off-sale from an 80's nuke-scare dementia garage sale. Buy one steel door, complete with big steel wheel, get this Cuisinart for free. The staff consisted solely of angry nurses, ready to bust your skull if you even once stepped out of line. They all looked at me as if my semen made me a vile, cantankerous slithering demon, sort of in the way of the spitting cobra. Stay back, menace, you'll not sully any more of my kind. A joke passed between my fiancee and I, about how weak I am, not able to open the door.
The inside of the clinic is eerily quiet. I can't even recall a ringing phone. Angry nurses with phone-telepathy, nodding into receivers. After an uncomfortable time a quaint, horribly obese nurses with graying, fly-away hair walks up and taps my fiancee on the shoulder: Ms.? Would you follow me, please? I'm thinking that they found the most matronly-looking nurse on this planet.
Two years later, I sit typing, and I think to myself, what is it about these places, that they try to ply us with huge matronly women, in the vain hope that maybe, maybe, we won't be quite as unsettled. I'm still not settled today. Seven hundred or more days after it happened, and I'm still not settled. I don't think I ever will be.
I can't count the mistakes I've made on one hand, nor do I know where they will end.
The plain truth is that we weren't ready for another child. We still do very well by the one child we have remaining to us; today, she is watching a television show which I would not have understood as a child, and I think that means something. It probably means that she is better than I am. Where did this life start? Am I so star-crossed that everything I do turns to shit? I think about this all the time. But it's not all true, because my daughter has grown up happy, bright, brighter than the sun, happier than an angel in God's Divine Presence. Most every day I think of that yellow room with the angry nurses and I wonder what it's all for. Does this mean something? What do I mean?
After it was done, the sun scarred my eyelids. A yellow, caustic clinic with no windows did not prepare me for the sunshine berating us from the snow. To help quell us, we immediately hobbled our way to a nearby restaurant. We ate a subdued lunch, and I told jokes to ease some of the heartache.
I find now that no one really knows heartache, the definitive, Webster Unabridged version. When your heart aches, the sun dies, it's always cloudy, and you can never see straight. You don't feel calm any more, only empty, devoid of any passion. Lust for life.
My love's heartache is still there, underneath it all. But she was so strong, that day. Her head was held high. How very strong, her resolve, her need to get over this. We didn't want to, but we had to, and we did, and I took her strength, and turned it into something I could almost call "courage".