Thursday 31st December 2009
Gestation: 13 weeks, 6 day
One year ago.
It’s New Years Eve.
We’ve stayed in Oxley for five days. We’ve been hanging out with Suse’s parents, doing plenty of nothing. I ran every day while she read. We visited Suse’s brother, and her sister, and other siblings came to stay. We spent time as the Brock clan, across generations; an extended family.
But Suse and I also heal as our own family.
We are kind to ourselves, and kind to each other. Our wounds cure in the baking, northern Victorian sun. We allow Helen to tend to us, to make things better with food. And we draw closer again, without the pressures of work, or the pile on the desk staring back at me.
This afternoon, on our way home, we drop in to see Ella. We have a couple of beers with Suse’s best friend, and the two of them giggle like schoolgirls, while we help Ella and her sister choose clothes for their New Year’s party. I find myself advising on female fashion.
I must be relaxed.
And it’s a stinker. It’s hot, and humid, and the beer flows easily down our necks. We grab another, beginning the kick off for New Year’s Eve.
We move onto the next party, a barbeque at Adam and Lexi’s place. We arrive to a happy crowd, and then sit and chat about pleasantly mundane things, cracking lame jokes. Not once does anyone mention the ectopic.
We watch Adam and Lexi as they play with Sally, their ten month-old girl. I take Suse’s hand, seeing the deep envy in her eyes. We talk at length to Bel and Dan, the IVF-stalwarts, now ten weeks and counting. Despite their attempts to relax, they unwittingly sit with their shoulders tensely raised. By habit, they brace themselves for an unseen impact.
They have done so for months.
We have more beer, and then I have another, as we sit there watching the storm clouds roll in. They are heavy and menacing, and yet Adam insists that we’ll be fine. The weather radar begs otherwise. And yet, we acquiesce to his desire for a backyard barbecue, his pride spilling over at his shared slab of concrete. That is, until big fat drops begin to fall like coins on a plate.
We retreat inside. We eat our feast, necking more wine and beer. We shoot the breeze, easy conversation with close friends, two-thirds of us aware of the travails of failed pregnancies. It is nice to be in such easy company.
With ninety minutes to spare until the next year rolls in, Suse and I farewell our friends. We’re off to Morley Bridge, just near our house, for an A-grade view of the fireworks.
Our fireworks. Our bridge. Ours alone.
Something a baron couple can share alone.
* * * * *
“Should I pour a couple of tequila shots?”
We’re barely through the front door. I’m already drunk. And shots are not my thing. They’ve never served me well; they usually end in tears. Only rarely in hysterics.
And yet, I’m an obliging kid of guy. This is my wife breaking out, announcing the finish to something, a completion of our own annus horribilis. Annus goddamned terribilis.
And she has that mischievous look in her eye.
There are only forty more minutes left in this ugly year. And these have been a forgettable couple of months. Fuck, it’s Day Sixty-Eight. It’s time to wipe it away.
And it’s just the two of us, in this, our wedding year; celebrating and commiserating for all it has been and meant.
It’s time to shed our skin.
She grins with delight. The dirty great drops continue to fall against the roof, threatening to break through. Suse prepares while I think twice. She hands me the lemon and the salt, and takes the shooters. We step outside and onto our porch.
We take the first shot. We lick the salt. We then suck. We hold up our glasses to the rain, in celebration. We repeat. And we repeat again.
I shake my head involuntarily, like I just sucked on a battery. A wave of delirium licks at me. And then I take one more.
Why the hell not?
We stand there both, the giddiness building, staring vacantly out at our street.
“We better get ready to go,” Suse says finally.
“No worries,” I reply, my voice no longer belonging to me. I take a slug of beer to chase the bitterness away. I walk inside and I grab the rain jackets, feeling an overwhelming lethargy descend.
Pushing through, I return, handing Suse her jacket. She leans forward, resting her palms on her knees.
“Whew, I feel a little lightheaded,” she says, before sitting down.
Well, that’s it. Done. There is all the permission I need.
With that, I lie down, flat on my back.
The New Year’s fireworks sound great.
I just never see them.
Neither of us do.
* * * * *
I make it to bed, where slowly, I put myself down. I lie there, motionless, listening to the grenades outside. Within moments, I am haling Suse for a bucket. She grabs one, and places it by my side of the bed, while I transform into a sundried tomato. And yet, it feels good to be wiped like this. After all of the rawness at the edges of our wounds, there’s a sweetness to being this numb.
If only we could drop the nausea.
I lie there, breathing, in and out. It feels okay, but I’d skip this function if I could. Everything tips me closer to the green edge. I dance at its curb for days, only to realise on staring at the clock that it is only eighteen-minutes-past-twelve.
Gingerly, I pull myself up. Within ninety seconds, I have showered, brushed my teeth and am back in bed.
The lassitude is sweeping. Nothing can rouse me.
But I am man.
When Suse starts to kiss me, I find a new strength. Previously untapped energy sources.
Happy New Year.
* * * * *