Feb 17, 2011
Have you heard of Jed Wells? You should hear of him. I find him to be a little bit more than amazing.
Jed and I met and interacted only once. It was at my home in Park City. He came to film the documentary for BYUtv. I was a little nervous, not to meet him, but to spill my guts to the group of five or so strangers in my home. I was concerned they would not find our story worthwhile. Or they'd find my blubbering to be just that. Turns out, they were listening while they worked.
Jed contacted me after the filming and asked if he could share his experience with all of you. I won't tell you how I didn't see his attachment until...oh, six or seven months later. But here it is. I hope you will glean something beautiful from it.
Sunday morning I found her in bed, draped in the crimson of our linens. We sent H&P to church with Grandma so we could be more available to the process. Still so shrouded in mystery and worry. The pills were a little more than an hour in her system and their dark magic was beginning to take effect. And she lay, cramping, under all the color that was suddenly both winking and wicked in its irony.
I took gingerly to my pillow, facing her. She opened her eyes to greet me. I touched the cheek that did not rise when she did not smile, and I studied her face. So familiar to me now in its softened contours, its freckled peaks and downy valleys. There was a time—well over a decade ago—when I would stare at her this way, mapping her face, memorizing its shapes and cataloging my impressions of it. Rather, its impressions on me. All the diffuse and tickling explosions going on in my guts when I saw it. Back when it was what we did: just to look and touch. And sometimes to say syrupy things. Things that make me blush now. We wrote them in letters that neither of us can bear to read today.
I could see her in there. The girl that she was, hiding but not invisible, under the faint lines written by the years and the pain of the day. And that girl was smiling back at me, her eyes iridescent and loaded with hope for the future. A look that I
used to interpret as simple adoration. But it never was simple anything. I know that now.
I was busying myself with housework until I found her like that. I’ve been busying myself with an endless list of chores and tasks since she told me. I can’t think of anything else to do. I was sitting at the computer on Thursday, opening one program or another, when she came home from the doctor’s holding that awful bag full of pads and pills. The dizzying printed petals of some flower couldn’t mask the ugliness inside the bag trembling in her hands. She wore her composure for only a second or two, but long enough for me to put it together. Her eyes were instantaneously full to spilling, and the fat tears dropped to frame her words like shining parentheses.
“It’s not there.”
My busywork started immediately. I bought presents and treats. I cleaned the house and cleaned it again. I did the dishes and made comfort food: Chicken Pot Pie. I cut carrots and heard them bounce and roll in the pot. My fingers moving without
my attention. I chopped onions, my eyes crying without my heart. I laced the gravy with wine and curry, not because they’re traditionally comfort foods, but because that’s how I’d always imagined my Chicken Pot Pie.
I ran at night, to feel my lungs burn and to hear my blood pounding in my ears.
We sat the kids down at the kitchen table. She said, “I went to the doctor today to take some pictures of the baby, and he told me that it had stopped growing and so we’re not going to have a baby anymore.” They listened. P gave her a hug and H
didn’t know what to say, so she said “Okay.”
Jules was sick all weekend, complete with a high fever and an inability to hold anything down. He vomited and cried, he shuffled the floors moaning and fitting. And in spite of her own discomfort, she held and coddled the boy. She rocked him in the night, she caught his sick on her shoulder and in her lap. And when he screamed at her and fought her about medicine, my wrath was quick and my indignation ripe. I wanted him to understand what she was doing and what she was going through. But when it came my turn to hold him, I cradled him and kissed his cheek, because I knew it’s what she would have done. I could see her in my mind with her forehead on his, singing, Behind the clouds, the sun is shi-i-i-ning, and she is swaying gently
from one foot to the other.
And I know these things happen all the time and I’m dead tired of the thought. I know we’re blessed to have the three that we do. But this is new for us and I am unapologetic about the loss I feel. I’m in love with the kids that she makes. I love to meet them and I was so looking forward to that pleasure in September. I wince when we say things like “we just need to get this over with” or the pill is necessary to “get rid of it.” That it was part of me. While it lived for only a few weeks inside of her, it still lives in my imagination as I know it always will in hers. It’s more of an ember, though. It’s a feeling that lives with me, and I will likely leave it that way. Forever avoiding names and physicalities.
There was a steady parade of sad faces and quiet phone calls at the house. Friends, sisters, Mothers. All of them united in affection for her and sorrow in her sorrow. She was tired, but never tired of their kindness. I urged her to lay down as often as she could while I puttered around wiping counters and vacuuming the floors. I was mute in my grief, rightly or wrongly. Even now, when people express their condolences I feel it is my masculine duty to smile, to thank, and to move on. But my wound is deep and wide. And while I feel I was gently guided in prayer toward coping with this—long before we ever got the news—it still came as a searing blow. It’s not there, she said. And when she fell to her knees by my chair and wept on my shoulder, I gathered all my strength and put it into steadying my hand as I stroked her soft hair.
And so, after finding her on Sunday morning, I laid my head on the pillow across from her and I let sleep come. I dreamt about my family. My three little ones and their little mother. I dreamt we were in a meadow somewhere outside of Swan Valley. The land was thick with grass the color of honey and sage that exhaled its perfume into the approaching evening. The kids were calling out and laughing, their voices muffled and echoing as if from across a grand canyon. I took Jayne’s hand to squeeze it three times. Her eyes held our future and they shone out of her face like mirrors in the sun.
*footnote: it was february 18, one year ago, when jayne went to the doctor and discovered the miscarriage. and i asked her to marry me (with a ring) on feb 18 ten years before that.