Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sue

My friend Sue was of that rare type I talked about in my previous post. I was with her when she gave birth, but she didn't even want to see the baby. She wanted it taken away, given away and never wanted to give it a second thought again for the rest of her life. Unusual, I know. But she was a very cynical, bitter and hard woman.

I wore her down. I had a habit of doing that. She finally came with me to the nursery to look at him (she found out then that it was a boy). She still refused to hold him, no matter how hard I tried to convince her. So I held him for her. I know what she was thinking. She didn't want to form any attachments. No bonds.

She was afraid she wouldn't be able to go through with it if she was exposed to him too much.

I could understand that. She also didn't want to know where he was going or to whom.

That was harder to understand. She didn't want anyone to know she had a baby. She hid it from her family (easy to do since she wasn't living at home and wasn't very close to them).

I could understand that. (My own family would have disowned me if I ever got pregnant outside of marriage.)

She never told the baby's father that he got her pregnant (he was married and someone we worked with).

I almost understood that. (But a small part of me thought he deserved to know.)

I've never been able to figure out why she decided to confide in me all those months earlier. I had noticed that she was putting on weight. I noticed that she had cut back on her drinking - only one beer a night now. I noticed she seemed to be smoking less - but she never quit entirely. I noticed that she wasn't sneaking off with JB at lunch and after work anymore. She didn't think I noticed. But I did.

We sat in our favorite booth in our dingy neighborhood bar. She was smoking. I saw her hand trembling. She seemed deep in thought. I felt a sudden urge to remind her that she wasn't alone. She was a fairly cold person, but I saw a streak of warmth under her icy facade. I moved into the seat beside her and flung my arm over her shoulder and gave her a quick squeeze. She was startled. "Why did you do that?" She asked. "You looked like you could use one." I smiled.

The blank expression on her face caved into pain and she began to swipe tears from her eyes. I was stunned. "Tell me what's wrong." I said, simply. She read something on my face...probably my genuine sincerity. If I am nothing else, I am a great friend.

She told me.

When she came to the part about going to have an abortion the next day I grabbed her hand and asked her if she had ever considered giving the baby up for adoption. "No. I've almost waited too long already. I had an abortion in high school. It wasn't so bad. I just kept hoping this would go away. I don't want to be pregnant! I can't go through this again." The pain on her face was raw and conflicted.

"Sue, you know this isn't just going to go away. You've come this far. Why not just hang on for a few more months? Give this baby a chance at life." I wanted to convince her so desperately.

"I can't. Everything I do turns to shit. I'll just end up messing up this kid's life too. It's better off not being born." She pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes and I watched the smoke from her cigarette drift upward.

There had to be something I could say to convince her. "You know...I was adopted." I watched as the rubbing motion of her hands stopped. I kept talking. I told her how happy I was to be alive. How glad I was that my birth mother didn't abort me. Yeah, my home life wasn't perfect, but that didn't mean I felt I was better off never being born. I don't think I've ever been more convincing in my life. I talked until I could feel my voice getting raspy. I took a sip of flat warm beer.

She finally looked up at me and said "OK."

"OK?"

"Yeah. You win. I'll give the baby up. Now will you shut up and drink your beer?"

I grinned and socked her on the arm. "You better start being happy about this decision or I may have to hug you again..." She looked at me in mock horror but I could see her struggling not to smile.

I did my best to help her through those last few months of pregnancy. For some reason, people came to ME and asked if she was pregnant. They didn't approach her. I was happy about that. It gave me the opportunity to tell them yes, but not to talk to her about it. Everyone at work respected that boundary and no one spoke to her about her growing belly. No, she did NOT want to have a surprise baby shower. Duh.

I often wonder if JB noticed. Did he wonder if the baby was his? He was doing a great job of pretending not to see. He went on. Business as usual. Jerk.

Sue grew fond of my friend Steve during her pregnancy. He was one of the guys who hung out with us at the bar. He was at least 15 years older than us, but we didn't care. He didn't care that she was pregnant, either. He was one of the people she called after she called me to say she was in labor. I rushed to see her at the hospital. When I got there, she had already received some pain medication. "You are SO friggin lucky I am feeling no pain 'cause you know I would kill you otherwise..." she mumble with a grin.

I just smiled. I was tempted to remind her that I didn't have the equipment to GET her pregnant...but I resisted. She didn't need to be reminded about the sperm donor who got her into this predicament. Not now.

I had changed jobs within the company by then. Not long after, she changed jobs too. She followed Steve up to a facility in New Hampshire. Last I heard, they had moved in together. Neither one ever wanted to get married. They really were perfect for each other. I lost touch with her after that. I know I represented some pretty painful memories for her. I hope she and Steve are still together living happily in that little cabin he found in the woods of northern New Hampshire. I hope she finally found happiness and peace.

And to "Baby Boy G"? I got your back, sweetie. I hope you are having a fantastic life.

No comments: