“I can’t do this. I know I can’t do this” Me sitting up in bed, tears of absolute fear and utter panic flowing down my face as I sat, in a puddle in a dark room just down the hall from my mother.
I had been awoken from my sleep, my much coveted and dearly needed sleep. My body resting upon the wad of pillows that I had shoved between me and my sagging, ten year old mattress, trying desperately to alleviate the wretched combination of the worst heartburn I had ever experienced and a pain in my lower back that was akin to having the weight of the world digging its heels in and resting upon my kidneys. I ripped the comfortless comforter off my body to see my legs, the ones that had learned to dance, learned to run and had carried me each and every time I longed to flee…those legs still and wrapped in the pale pink pajama bottoms that I had slipped into before kissing my mother goodnight but now, now the pink was almost peach colored as it clung, wet and slippery against my skin.
I sat in my dark room alone crying. Eighteen, I had just turned eighteen and here I was, wetting the bed. I assumed my loss of bladder control had something to do with the heart stopping fear that I had been living with. The pressure of figuring out what to do, how not to alert my mother that I was doing it and how…how to live with the fact that I was pregnant and in no way ready to raise myself let alone another human. Her voice in my head, that, “If you get pregnant you are on your own” mantra that had been snarled at me for as long as I could remember. As I ripped the saturated sheets off the bed, the pajama bottoms that hung heavy and see-through to my thighs, the dribble of the bathroom faucet as I rested my forearms on the counter and wrung out the washcloth that I would use to clean myself up. “I know I can’t do this” the soundtrack as I wrapped my sink washed bottoms around my fists and twisted with all of my might….
The task of covering up what I had been hiding becoming my mission. If I could just buy myself a little more time I could figure this out. Figure out how to tell her. Tell her that I had messed up but was working on making it better. Showing her all the families that were aching to take the child that I wasn’t ready to care for. So quiet the apartment that night, I could hear my mother and sister snoring, their shifting and heavy breathing and there I was, wet from wrists to ankles, washing up and covering up. My fear and inability to handle this being washed down the sink and hanging over the shower door to dry. A little more time….
The bladder control continued to me by nemesis. The leaking from within and constant reminder of the “situation” I was unwilling to face. The face of my disappointed mother that I was unready to…face. I was guilty of everything she warned me of; falling victim to a predator, being careless with my love, seeking touch and affirmation from places and people that preyed on girls like me. I fell for all of it and now, now I was staring down the barrel actually dealing with, knowing, the life that she had already researched and failed for me. If I had been able to hear her, feel her, our lives would have been very different.
Twenty-two years ago, today, my water broke and thus began the life of a young man that was unwilling to become a statistic and taught me all that I currently know about strength and tenacity. I had not wet the bed that night, Jeremy threw his first punch and that was the first time we met. Me fearful and soaked, him willing to hold his breath until I pulled my head out of my ass and stopped thinking that I was the victim. He spent a week in my body, hanging on and fighting as I stupidly tried to fit a square peg in a round hole. Tried to make my life fit into what others had hoped I would be.
“I can’t believe he made it” the doctor that delivered Jeremy. A week struggling, kicking and making my back ache even worse as he fought the thick walls that were closing in on him. His fight and unwillingness to quit an inspiration to a just-turned-eighteen-year-old. I thought of myself scouring to cover the “stain” of a late night that got me there, the soaked, dancing legs that barely held me up as I washed myself clean of his first hello. And now, now I can’t imagine that I would be capable of the pride that I own because of him.
I first met my son twenty two years ago today. He got my attention in a way that no one had before. Inspired me to be the woman that you all seem to dig now. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and I know my beloved son gives me far too much. Jeremy, you are the reason I can walk in any room and feel like I matter. If you own nothing else in your life, own that. A freaked out eighteen year old was transformed the second your gasping for air, tiny body emerged from inside me. You were, and are, everything I could have ever dreamed of and I love you more than you can possibly…for now, understand.
Happy First Day We Met….
I love you.