Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Hole in my Socks on the Ides of March

Can't think of a single betrayal tonight. Home alone, done grading, a glass of merlot after lamb chops, little red potatoes and asparagus. Feet up, a tiny hole apparent on the left big toe of my favorite socks -- the ones with dogs on them I bought with my niece on a happy day in Frankenmuth.

Ah, the pleasures of faux Bavaria. That day, as we walked by one of the chicken palaces, a guy who seemed to have had a bit too much lager checked us out and said, "Hey...mother and daughter, right?" I was deeply affected.

So maybe this entry is something about childbearing -- not childbearing. As of Jan. 15, I'm officially "post-menopausal," having had no blood for a year, and now, more. My reproductive years are over.

Of course, I never reproduced. For women like me, who've never had babies, menopause carries, I believe, a somewhat different significance. Never having had children can be a hard disappointment. I remember when I first realized I probably wouldn't ever have kids. I was in my late thirties and I'd just had a miscarriage -- as far as I ever got. I stood in front of my kitchen window, staring out at the trees at that many-paned window of another life, and I couldn't stop crying. It was the first time I faced down one of the major limits of my life. I would not experience childbirth. I would not be a mother.

Perhaps the traitor du jour is my own body.

It's the "not" of it that aches, I suppose. The words that go with it are sad and empty. Barren is one of them. A womb that has never expanded, a womb that has never experienced "quickening." I was never "blessed among women." I will not, at my deathbed, have my children around me, as I once wrongly predicted in one of my Tonga journals. I am likely to die alone, as do we all when it comes down to it. It is what it is.

But those sad years of grieving over what was not to be are mostly over. I am not unhappy. Here it is Saturday night and I'm at ease and at liberty, feeling only a little sad about that hole in my sock, the little damage that reminds me that living has results: hurts and disappointments and yes, betrayals. And the daily discovery that emptiness can be filled up with love. I've had twenty years, since that first day of mourning, to fill up the empty spaces, to cultivate the "what else."

And here is the moment, the present tense, the breath in the now. Gratitude for what is: for what still is. No knife in the back. No cramps, no blood. No kid to keep me awake, no kid to ratify or indict me. No begats to hasten my demise. Just this quiet evening, fingers on keyboard, pixels organizing themselves into various dances at my touch. This, to my retiring womb, feels very lucky indeed on an unlucky day.


fengirl said...

A beautiful piece of writing. One with which I can identify.Keep them coming.

Macy Swain said...

Thanks so much for your feedback, Fengirl.