It started at the bank.
I left school with rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels in my cupholder to go exchange for $5 bills and a couple ones for our vacation tip money. I keep missing the bank's open hours, so these rolls of coins have been weighing down the side opposite where my morning coffee goes. But today, I made it with twenty minutes to spare.
My bank is a chain, but I love going to my branch because they are very friendly and remember who you are; so it's sort of like an old-fashioned bank from yesteryear. Also, they have notarized EVERY SINGLE FREAKING THING from IVF to donor material to adoption paperwork to embryo adoption releases. So they know us fairly well.
After exchanging my coins in their neat paper packages for crisp bills, the woman behind the desk asked, "Sooooo, how are things?"
I knew exactly what she meant.
"Still waiting," I said with a plastered smile.
"Really? Wow. That seems...long."
"Seventeen months -- some close calls but nothing has really meshed. Yet. That's why we're going to Vermont for Christmas, to avoid feeling sad around the Christmas tree just us two...again."
And then she said, "2017 is YOUR YEAR. It just HAS to be. I've been notarizing paperwork for you for years, this MUST be the year."
Oh, I hope so. But it echoed and ricocheted in my mind...how many times have I heard "This is YOUR YEAR?" in the past seven?
And it just never is. Or rather, it just hasn't been, not yet. But there's just SO MANY not yets piled up.
The second hit came when I opened a card from a friend of mine and the age of her children hit me in the heart, hard. How on earth could they be so old-looking? I mean, they are now just school-age, but I remember when she was pregnant. I remember right before she got pregnant, that she said, "I've been trying longer than you, so it would only be fair if I got pregnant first." And then she did. And I had the ectopic and then the miscarriage and then...nothing. And now her children have grown up suddenly into these not-babies, and I remember talking with her about how surprising it was to feel the expansion of twins, how painful her first trimester was for all the stretching to accommodate those two precious babies. I remember her visiting me in bed as I recuperated from my laparoscopy to remove my tube and my wayward baby and the botched incision thanks to a late-night asthma attack post-surgery, and how I asked about her anatomy scan of the babies and if she knew the sex and she stood there by my bed, with tears rolling down her cheeks, and told me that it was a girl and a boy -- and I told her that I didn't want her to not tell me her news just because mine was so shitty.
And now those babies are bona fide children. I love the card, and the family they make, but it hurt my heart so much to realize how long it's been, how hopeful I was that we could be moms together, at the same time, and our kids could grow up together. Obviously that didn't happen. They're growing up without my Mystery Baby's companionship.
Then the kicker came, and it surprised the fuck out of me.
We decided to watch a Christmas movie after a crazy day. I picked A Christmas Story, because I haven't seen it in forever.
I had no idea that it would result in a sobbing jag and a trip down into the pit.
When Ralphie beats up the kid with the yellow eyes and his mom peels him off (and leaves the bully bleeding in the snow), there's a tenderness in the dinner scene after where the mom manages to simultaneously tell the truth ("Ralphie had a fight") and protect her son from any paternal wrath by bringing up sports stuff and not pursuing it further. It's a sweet mother-son moment where he realizes he has an ally in his mom, even if just a bit ago she was washing out his mouth with LifeBoy soap for uttering the F-word. The tears started then and then flowed freely as the family went to see Santa on parade and then the boys wake up to the magical frosted Christmas morning and race down the stairs to mess with their presents.
Oh my god, what if I never have that? I thought. I've been missing this for years and years. What if I miss it forever?
It slammed me in the gut and stomped all over my heart to see this family tableau play out in a movie where Bryce noted we've always identified with the kid, and now we identify with the parents...EXCEPT WE'RE NOT.
I just cried and cried in the bathroom as I washed my face and took off my eye makeup, and then I cried some more--wild animal sobs--as I sat on Bryce's lap and he rubbed my back. I cried for all we've lost. I cried for all the lost time. I cried for the possibility that this just may not be for us. I just cried and cried and felt all my losses, all the years of hope and disappointment, as if it had just happened.
I wish we had watched Love, Actually, which was my second choice. Although for all I know there would be tears for that, too, today. I don't remember all the parts--it's possible there would be a trigger there since I am apparently set up for tiny filament triplines. I thought I was okay, I thought that looking forward to the balm for the soul Vermont trip that is such a refuge for us had put me in a holiday spirit, a place of healing and happiness in what we DO have. And I am, I am happy for what we have right now.
I just really grieve the life we thought would be for us that hasn't quite come to be yet.