‘It happens more often than you think, you know. A lot of women just don’t talk about it.’ My mother told me all of this one gray evening during a winter break from college. ‘Once, twice, even. When you’re older…’
She trailed off, unsure of how to continue. And maybe I conjured it up, maybe it was a fitting contrivance of my imagination, but I could have sworn that my mother touched her stomach, lightly, and in her eyes, I could see that for only a moment she was back in that faraway place of excited, bright happiness, when everything was hopeful and every day was new, in a country miles away in distance and time.
There are certain things that my mother has told me are my legacies and my obligations. And what she imparted to me — the story of her loss — was an attempt to convey these sentiments. The gifts she took for granted are what I take for granted as well. I throw my birthrights away. I had told her I would never have children, that I would one day adopt instead, and she told me her secret. A story I was a part of and never knew.
And then she was with me again, her eyes resting on my face, her mouth twitched, because she knows I will never know what it’s like to miscarry; because it disappoints her gravely that I will never love a man and that I will never carry a child, that the price for my living and loving honestly are the cost of her greatest hopes and happiness; that her grandchildren will not have the almond eyes she gave me, nor her cheekbones, nor her olive-undertoned skin; that she would have gladly had her miscarriage if it meant I would never have one, how she should have worded her wishes more carefully, because life is funny and above all things fair; because the only way we can survive from day into the long night is through children, children, children; because the greatest conduit of past to present to future are the bloodlines that connect and bind; because things and chromosomes unwind and fall apart, because we can’t always trust the promises that we make (even with ourselves); because I hold my mother’s hand and, for a moment, promise to not let go.”
— J. E. Reich, To Become Whole First, You Must Be Broken