I am sitting across from them, and we are discussing relational tables and database construction. It's all very calm and civilized. She says something and I crack a joke about it and we laugh.
And the whole time I'm screaming inside my head. Screams, shrieks, wailing, echoing around and around.
"Oh yes, but the problem is that I have two unique identifiers, and there are too many fields linked with this to separate them. We can make do with 400 records per fiscal year, but it's not the ideal."
Inside my head I'm saying, "I'm not pregnant after all. But that line was there. I know I didn't imagine it. God, another fucking evap? How is this possible? Fucking hell. Over eight months now. I never thought it would take so long. It's never taken so long before. What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? What am I going to do?"
"No, come see what I've already done. It's pretty neat. We'll just put in the customer ID, and look! The other basic identity fields populate. Nope, it's that easy. That's why I'm using relational databases."
Inside my head I'm saying, "God, why did I open that article about the abused child? I knew what it would say. My God. They essentially boiled him. Why, why, why does that fucker get a living child they have no interest in or love for and I have only ashes of my dead son? I know the universe isn't fair, but come on. It's just so patently wrong."
"It might work that way. But I still think there is a more efficient way to do it. No, I know it doesn't make much sense now, but that's because I'm only half-way through establishing the fields. I have to stop and figure out the relationships before I go any farther. No it'll make more sense when I finish the layout. Then I can walk you through the entire entry of a record and we'll test it."
Inside my head I'm saying, "What am I? Am I mother? Most people would say I am. I would say so. It's just that my parenting was all compressed into about three hours. And I didn't manage that very well. All these mothers, they have no idea what they have and how desperately I want what they have. What if I am never going to be a mother again? Is my time as a mother through? In a sense it is. That identity, that label, it was put away when Gabriel died."
"No no, the book is really helpful. I will get this, I know I can do it. This is going to be great. Oh, really? Show it to the other divisions? That would be great, but it won't be ready before the fall. It's going to need a lot of tweaking, especially since we're building our process at the same time. My primary goal right now is to get it functional, and then we can work on making it more automated and easier to use."
Inside I am crying. I can't stop thinking about him. About what should have been. I know what should have been is an utterly useless thing to ponder, because it is not. But I can't help it. My arms ache with longing to hold him. I can't remember with physical memory any longer how it felt to feel him move within me. I can't remember quite how he looked anymore. I wonder if I have merely made a fuss over nothing. Was Gabriel nothing, really? Just another miscarriage, right? Why can't I get over it? But why should I? Stupid line of questioning. I am not over it and I will never be over it in that way. I am forever a different person and there is no going back.
I'm sitting here, sounding confident, smiling. Pleased with these developments. Inside I am a wreck, a mess, lonely, desperate, falling apart. I feel broken and beaten, pushed aside and withdrawn. I am a ghost, a wraith. I wish so much to speak of the pain welling up once again inside me, of how I am driven to my knees, how my husband is trying so valiantly to catch me as I'm falling again. Grief is not linear. There is not a progression you can make in that way. It's a spirl, or a wheel, and again, I've come over the curve to find myself thrown down.
It's not just not being pregnant, but that's part of it. It's not just missing Gabe, but that's part of it. It's the fact that pain of his loss has hit me again, and I feel again like I'm gasping for air. It's hard to breathe and hard to speak and yet, it's going to be nine months soon and I can't appear to be anything other than pieced back together and happy again. Sometimes that's not just a front. Today I can feel the glue seeping between the cracks, and pieces caving in and I am terrified of how this will end and who I will be.
I am so lonely right now, I can't express it. Even the company of other dead baby mamas is a small consolation. I yearn to be around others, but I shrink away as well. I can't express it, it's too vast. And I am having a difficult time again with coping with the Others. The Happy, the Blessed, the Smiled-Upon. Those with pregnant bellies, with infants, with children. I know their lives aren't perfect or ideal. I know they are tired and frustrated and worried and pulled too thin and I would still beg to have it.
I know I cut myself off from people and places. It was necessary, and as such, I can't regret it. I do miss it. I do miss them. But I am not her, and cannot be her again. I might come close, if I ever conceive, but it would still be me. Gabriel's mother, and not her. I wonder, sometimes, who was right and who was wrong and then I remember, no one was either. I had my necessary spaces and where I went could not be followed.
I am so sad. So tired. Tired of fighting, tired of hoping, tired of trying. I want to lay down and be still for awhile. But I can't. There is no escaping the core of the problem. My son is dead. He can't come back. No matter how much I long for him and love him, he's gone. And today is a day when I don't know how to live with that forever.
And now I'm crying on the outside as well. Quietly, no screams. Much as I want to scream and scream and scream until the pain is gone, I don't. Much as I want to drink and drink, I don't. Much as I want to curl up in a ball, I don't. Someone once told me they wondered how I could be so hopeful and I was taken aback because I do not see myself that way. I believe I told her that getting out of bed everyday was an act of hope. That making the decision to live is an act of hope. That there is no choice or option. You can hope or die. I can't die. There is no choice but to pull myself back up, hope the glue holds and drag myself along again, no matter how little I want to.