The feelings that resurfaced didn’t come from out of nowhere; it was November 11th, and this happened every year. Of course some things were different; she was older now, and no longer in school; so instead of skipping classes she had taken the day off from work. She no longer spent the day locked in her bedroom at her parent’s house; she lived in an apartment now, and sat in her own living room. Also, when it began she was too young to purchase the bottle of wine that she had found helped tremendously as she sat alone every year on this night, but the feelings were the same, and that much would never change.
She thought back to November 11th; at least to the first one that mattered in her life. She was sixteen years old, scared, and confused as she laid alone in that hospital bed not knowing what would happen next. Sixteen and pregnant, dumped by her boyfriend, and an embarrassment to her parents. What a cliché, she thought as she looked down at her stomach covered by the over starched, dull blue hospital gown and touched the place where her baby used to be.
There was a part of her that wanted to say ‘no’ now that the time had come, she wanted to change her mind and take it all back; she had been told that would happen, that it was a natural thing to feel; and she had been told not to worry, because what she was doing was for the best. They had told her she was too young, and not fit to be a mother; and they had asked her how she would raise a child when she was still one herself, and what kind of life could she ever hope to provide it. She had been told so many things she no longer knew which thoughts were even her own anymore.
Her concentration was broken as the nurse entered the room. “You’re gonna hold this baby one time.” The nurse told her from a place that sounded like experience. “You’re gonna hold her, and you’re gonna promise her that this right here is the point you’re turning your life around. You’re doing a good thing, you’re giving her a chance at a better life, but you need to give yourself one too.”
She burst into tears as soon as the nurse placed the warm pink bundle in her arms, it was the only time she would ever get to hold her child. She cried, and she kissed her daughter’s tiny forehead, and she promised to become the kind of person that would make her proud, she told her she loved her, and she begged for forgiveness.
The first of many tears rolled down her cheek as she thought of how far she had come. She had indeed turned things around, no longer sneaking out with her friends or being promiscuous, she managed a scholarship to nursing school where she studied hard and avoided repeating the mistakes of her past, she avoided the bars, and the parties, and most of all she avoided the boys. She had just graduated near the top of her class. She already had a job, and a new world of possibilities was opening up before her; to the world it seemed like she had everything in order. But no matter what she accomplished every November 11th she ended up back here; alone in a room.
At the time, it seemed like a brilliant idea. A way to save two lives at once, and she could convince herself of that 364 days of the year, but not on November 11th, not on her daughter’s birthday, not as she could almost feel her baby cradled there in her arms, not as she clutched the picture of her sixteen year old self tightly to her chest, the picture of her with her eyes closed gently kissing her infant daughter’s sleeping forehead, the only picture she would ever have, not as she sat there knowing she would always remember her daughter on that day, but forced to wonder if her daughter would ever remember her.
written for: The Speakeasy #135