Two lines glow bright pink on the stick passed through my urine just a few minutes before. My heart leaps and expands, joy massaging it, coaxing it to relax and unfurl. There is life inside of me. I am capable of creating life. Instantly, I am a mother. Baby name books, and What to Expect When You Are Expecting, and Dr. Sears line my nightstand. For a few weeks, I am whole. I have worth and a purpose, something to move me forward, something to open me up.
Then that Sunday in February arrives with underpants dotted red and moments of twisting, clenching, tightening. The feeling starts in my abdomen, but gradually winds its way up and into my heart. I stare out the rain soaked window of the car taking me to tell me what I already know. I am not capable. I am not a mother. The sonogram is pitch black, there is no longer a peanut-shaped light to break up the darkness. I am ashamed. I am broken.
Back home, I cry in the isolation of my bedroom. As morning dawns, I bury it deep, the sadness and shame and brokenness. I go to work and crunch numbers and yell at subcontractors and pretend it never happened. But the heart holds on. It twists and clenches and tightens.
Ten years and two children later, the mind can forget. The mind can still fill itself with distractions. But the body remembers. It holds that life, that loss, in every tissue, every fiber. Once again, at the same time every year, the story is re-played. As if from nowhere, the chest clenches and tightens. Muscles constrict and burn. Unshed tears surface and squeeze out, rolling lazily down, like the raindrops on that car window so long ago.
The mind can forget. The heart holds on.