You want forty years to wash away the painful memories of that day, but it’s not that easy. You are doomed to suffer, sometime in silence, occasionally out loud which you always regret. Don’t share if you can’t take advice. There’s no love big enough to absorb your pain. Whatever happened is in the past. Get over it already.
It was a cold January with daily ice storms which caused heavy tree limbs to snap on top of power lines. You turned on the gas oven and sat in front of it’s open door, holding him close under a heavy blanket as you both shivered in the dark. He was calm as he whimpered softly into your chest, falling asleep, oblivious to what was to happen. You held back your sobs determined to be strong, cold and strong, no emotion would escape your body or mind. It had to be done, that’s all there was to it, it had to be done.
A strong wind howled at the window banging on the shutters, making you feel small, weak, insignificant. You already had that talk with yourself. No one could hate you more than you hated yourself, no one.
He was to come and get the baby around six but you feared the weather made him late. He hadn’t called but it was easy to imagine the icy roads in the dark without street lights to guide him. You made him agree to take the baby, convincing him of his responsibility as the father.
You were relieved for a moment thinking maybe he won’t show up, maybe he changed his mind and you, given more time will change your mind too.
How many times did you replay the scenario in your head? You worked two jobs and hauled the baby from sitter to sitter barely seeing him awake or spending any time with him. This was for the best. Your heart will break but the baby will be in good hands. So what if it was uncommon for fathers to have custody. Those who would accuse you of being a bad mother had no idea.
And then there was the other issue, the one you kept to yourself, the one that was making you to choose between your child and your deepest feelings, feelings you could not control.
Collapsed on the floor with a sweaty baby in your arms, you try to listen for the sound of footsteps. You may have dosed and feel disoriented. Was it the wind shaking the shutters or someone knocking.
Carefully you pry the baby from your arms and lay him down next to you. You walk to the door. The wind pushes it open as you loosen the latch. You freeze in front of it, your lips moving in slow motion as you hear yourself whisper from afar.
And then it all becomes fuzzy, like a dream, one that you have replayed for years. You let the bundled figure enter and move towards the baby. You see him be lifted up into the air, arms reaching in you direction. You look away and hold back tears because you’re strong and you know what’s good for him. From the corner of your eye, you watch the figure move towards the door. There’s still time to stop him, but you feel paralyzed. It’s for the best you keep repeating quietly, it’s for the best. You watch yourself walk slowly towards the door, you watch the figure disappear into the darkness. There’s still time to stop him but you’re in another world by then, disconnected, removed.
You stand at the door oblivious to the cold wind. Time dissolves into millions of shooting stars and you find yourself floating gently above, hugging your shuddering body. Pain gives way to numbness. Reality seems a distant past and for a moment, only a moment, you feel at peace.