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2022-07-31 - 3:40 a.m.

Well here we are! Still in the fog. The brain is a slough of hormones raging in and out, coupled with a nice glutamatergic surge from the poor decision to swipe my mom’s Xanax while we were down for her funeral. Harmless, is what the thoughts said. Temporary, they insisted.

Lesson learned! Don’t fuck around with benzos.

Anyway, this is such a weird time. I look at this tiny cute baby who’s suddenly alive and ready to get going with his new existence. Somehow we are taking care of him, day in and day out. But jeez what on earth is happening? Do I have a child? Apparently. None of it feels real and I’m met with a hollow emptiness when I try to conjure feelings of love for him. The love I assumed would come instantly, permanently, and in an all consuming whirlwind of transfiguration. However, this numbness is basically the main thing. I keep going hoping sometime things will click. And they kind of do. But overall the lights are on and no one’s home. He’s beautiful and adorable and quirky and sweet and holey moley I don’t want to fuck him up. Just please don’t let that happen.

But I don’t know what the future holds at all. The rethinking of everything is happening. Did I want to marry George? Yes. Did I do it that soon to make my mom happy? Probably. Did I get pregnant in order to give her something to live for, to keep her alive and keep her fighting? Yes. It worked. She lived a year and a few months and by my father and miracles came all the way up to yankee country as a jaundiced frail remnant of her old self, just to hold sweet Benjamin in her arms. Sang to him. Cuddled him. Praised him for having black hair and blue eyes instead of red hair. Thank goodness, she said. I agreed at the time. What else was there to do?

And we ate the mile high apple pie. We ordered Thai food. We celebrated my upcoming birthday. They watched silently in a daze of fatigue and illness as he screamed and I panicked. Nothing fazes them. Babies scream they say. We don’t know why he’s crying they reply on my insistence. Nor does it seem to matter. I just want to do everything right. I want him to be okay. And in that time I lost sight of the fact that it was already over and this would be the last time. We planned the visit down there next week. I would come with him and visit her. But as they drove away I knew in my very gut that this would be the last time I’d see her.

And there were no touchy feely moments. No hugs. Nothing to write home about. I asked her on the phone right before my water broke, what would happen if I left george now? What if I moved out? I needed her to tell me I could do it and be a good mom by myself. There was not much time. Things had to move fast. “No, Mary. You can’t do this. Not by yourself. It’s too much for you. Trust me. You need to stay where you are. You can’t do it.” As always, her being right was an unquestionable fact of life. I was limited and couldn’t handle single motherhood. This is what was suspected but good to have confirmed. Now to the next plan. Staying until I can find childcare then working out a custody plan etc. She listened, in and out of subtle delirium that removed what little inhibition she held on to in life. I felt a terrible pain for her, her suffering, her yearning to live. Her smallness. Her weakness. Her refusal to give in to either. I felt that love for her, the yearning which was always present.

As we hung up I lay in the bed, ankle sprained, knee bleeding onto my clothes, the huge belly taking up its own spot on the mattress. The vulnerability and terror I felt swallowed me until nothing was left. Just to pray to wake up and manage another day at work. Another hour.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be a single mom. I probably couldn’t even be a mom. It was too hard. I would see.

I watched them walk out to the car as they left, the memory of that night only one week prior temporarily replaced by sheer joy, love, and hope. Her thin frame hobbled away. And I felt the nothingness that always existed between us stronger than ever. And yet the yearning and love in me for her continued, unabated, unrequited, unimportant. But it didn’t matter.

Somehow we have a little family. Somehow things have been blurred and put on a shelf, until when I don’t know. Perhaps we will not make it. Perhaps the loneliness will become too much to bear and I will come to see the value in my own happiness, and I will leave. Who knows. But for now we are a family. It feels hollow and surreal and simple and healing all at the same time. I’ll always wonder if she was right.

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