Tuesday 25th May 2010
Gestation: 34 weeks, 4 days
One year ago.
We walk into the room, and as we do, I hold my breath.
Suse has finally had an improvement in her chicken pox rash, more than two weeks after it initially began. Fifteen days of scratching like a mangy dog, in return for trying to do the right thing by an as-yet-unconceived child.
She hasn’t seen either of my brother’s new babies yet. And I know how hard it has been for her, how emotionally challenging, to have both of her sisters-in-law pop out a second child this May.
“Hello!” my Mum says, welcoming us in. Everyone stands. We enter the hotel room, filled with grandparents, parents, a sister, and, now – an uncle and an aunt. My Mum takes Suse in a hug, and then does my Dad. Both unspeaking in their love; both understanding how hard this is for her.
“Come on over and have a look,” says my sister-in-law excitedly, directing the comment straight at Suse.
I pause for the reaction.
“I’d love to,” Suse says.
I take a breath.
“Nice digs,” I say to my brother.
“Yeah, they like to ship you out of hospital as soon as possible. Don’t know that this is the hotel I’d choose, but it does all right.”
“It’s nothing on the Sofitel,” yells out my sister-in-law.
“Well, the room is smaller, sure, but the meals are okay…”
“…Yeah, but they make you pay for the movies,” she says in her Texan twang.
“It’s the little things, isn’t it?”
“I know!” she says.
I look across at my Mum, as she sits perched on the edge of the bed. She has a broad smile across her face, her head cocked, as she looks over at her youngest grandchild. I follow her eyes, to see what he is doing that is so cute.
And then I see it. There is Suse, already in the chair, holding Zach. She has him in the crook of her arm, her finger in his mouth, sucking, and stroking his soft brown hair.
And then she looks up at me and smiles.
* * * * *
I look out the window at the neon world beyond. We sit in Chinatown, around the corner in the CBD, chewing away on lemon chicken. Neither of us says anything for a couple of minutes; silence the indication of the quality of the food. It really is that good.
Suse looks up, licking her fingers.
“You were okay in there, hon?” I ask. “It wasn’t too close to the bone?”
“No,” she says, simply. “Something happened in there with Zach. I had a little moment with him. I spoke to him, and he spoke back.”
I look at Suse, curiously, knowing that this is something that my rational mind is never going to get. But that it is true. “And he told me that there was a little girl waiting, waiting to come down.” She takes another bite of her food. “And so I told him that I was ready.”
She looks up at me, like it’s the darndest thing.
Like it happens every day.
“I think it’s over, Mark. I’m over it. I’m done. The wound is healed.” She nods, confirming the fact to herself. “Something profound happened in there. And I really am done. I’m ready to move on.”
I look at my wife, not quite understanding. Never fully understanding. Never really comprehending this marvellously complex, beautiful, exquisitely frustrating, lovable soul that I’ve found to match my own bizarre, eccentric, inexplicable ways.
I guess that’s what we call marriage.
* * * * *