|Yesterday's ripe tomatoes|
My sister Fia was married (for the second time) a week ago, and I smiled at the pictures she posted on Facebook of their honeymoon. Her face is filled with happiness and her eyes are shining in a way I haven't seen in a long, long time. She's experiencing the bliss of beginning a new life. Of course she knows that they will have to return to the real world of work and strife sometime in the future, but not now.
The woman who lives downstairs from me is nine months pregnant. I saw her yesterday with her mother, and I was absolutely shocked at how big her stomach has become. It can't be more than a few days or a week now. When I was pregnant, I'm sure I was that big, too, but we wore smocks that made a tent over our tummies, and now women wear form-fitting clothing that doesn't hide anything.
The sight brought back memories from long ago of my own firstborn and the fear I had of going through the experience of childbirth. That was in the early sixties, and it was a different time then. There were no Lamaze classes, no internet that I could peruse to allay my fears. I was living in a small town in Puerto Rico, the dependent wife of an airman who was stationed at the nearby Air Force base. Nobody in the surrounding dwellings spoke any English, and my only companions, other than my husband, were other Air Force wives who lived nearby. We didn't have a car, so we made arrangements with a fellow airman who would drive us to the base hospital when the time came.
Inevitably, it began in the middle of the night, contractions that wouldn't be ignored. We rushed to the hospital and I was given over to a nurse who shaved me and gave me an enema. Do they still do those things? And then the doctor took over. I wasn't allowed to participate in the birth at all. They gave me a caudal anesthetic to deaden the entire pelvic area, strapped my legs into elevated stirrups, and tied my hands to the bed. I remember a mask with ether being forced onto my face and that was the last thing I knew until I came to. I had given birth to a son.
I wasn't allowed to see him until I had recovered from the anesthetic, which had filled me with lingering nausea. My memories are hazy, but I remember being in a ward with six other women when they brought him to me. I wanted to nurse him, but I wasn't helped in any way, as they expected I would bottle feed my baby. Breastfeeding was simply not encouraged back then. They even tried to give me pills to dry up the milk, but I didn't take them. I was the only one in the ward who breastfed her baby. Fortunately I was released from the hospital the next day, and the three of us went home to begin our new life. A memory I have of the two of us, Derald and me, leaning over the crib and looking at that beautiful new life, so tiny, so sweet. It lives on in my memory, in my heart.
But that was so very long ago. We didn't live happily ever after. Although we had a decent life, I thought I deserved a better one. I wrote about that time when I first began this blog, and I titled it "Trapped," because that was how I felt. Derald and Chris have now been gone a long time, but I am still here, still living on. There's no "happily ever after" in my story, but then again, I don't think it's even a real thing. I found this quote online by Joshua Loth Liebman:
“And they lived happily ever after” is one of the most tragic sentences in literature. It is tragic because it tells a falsehood about life and has led countless generations of people to expect something from human existence which is not possible on this fragile, imperfect earth. The “happy ending” obsession of Western culture is both a romantic illusion and a psychological handicap.I was one of those people who thought that if I didn't have romance in my relationship with my husband, it must be because he wasn't the right one for me. I didn't know that love changes as time passes, that as it matures it changes. I pinned all my unhappiness on my poor husband; I now know that he was a good man, and that if I had been able to see that, we would probably have stayed married. Instead, we had two sons and were divorced before five years had passed.
Now I have the wisdom that comes from a lifetime of having been through all the ups and downs, the incredible highs and the devastating lows that anyone who has lived long enough goes through. Maybe I've had more than my share of loss, but nobody who lives for any length of time escapes the loss of loved ones. It's part of life. As I said at the beginning, life is dynamic, always moving and changing. That baby downstairs is getting ready to change the lives of its parents in ways they cannot even imagine. The drama continues. Life continues.
The seasons are only three months long, and the long days of summer are beginning to shorten. The first whiff of fall is in the air. My garden is getting ready to go dormant, and there are even a few leaves that are just beginning to change from the green of summer to the reds of fall. And then the trees will be bare again, and we'll enter into the dark days of winter. The cycle of the seasons, the cycle of life, will continue long after I'm gone from this planet. But for right now, I'm living the dash. (A reference to a life, written as 1942— .) There is no second number... yet. All I can say is that although I've already lived a very full life, I'm looking forward to what comes next.
My cyber friends (that means you) occupy a certain space in my heart, and as I think of all of YOU living your own dash, I wish you well. Let's go out and fill our day with love and light, what do you say?