St. Patrick’s Day. Such a goofy holiday (I mean, of all the saints that could be honored). Most of us think it has something to do with snakes in Ireland, anyhow. It’s mainly the day that gives that annoying kid in class an excuse to be even more of a nuisance, and the party crowd a reason to drink themselves EXTRA retarded off odd colored drinks. For me, however, March 17th means something else entirely. It represents a birthday that was never celebrated… a person I’ll never meet.
"Here is your baby," the doctor said, motioning toward the white blurb on the monitor that morning four and a half years ago. I cocked my head sideways and, sure enough, I could see a tiny person. My eyes lit up. I instantly had a million questions for the little figure on the screen. Would you be a chip off the old block, or daddy’s little girl? Would you have my eyes? My smile? My untamable thick hair? Would you be left-handed like your old man? Would you inherit my ridiculous sweet tooth? Perhaps my mild case of ADHD as well? Lost in my thoughts, I barely heard what the doctor said next. Pointing to a miniature chest on the ultrasound, he said, "And right about here… is where the heartbeat should be." I got so excited as I looked for the… wait, what? Did he say… should… be?
As my mind wrapped itself around those last two words, my heart ran the gamut of emotions; overwhelming excitement, frantic confusion, sheer devastation, furious rage. I looked at the doctor. Should be??? He had said it so matter-of-factly, as if he were merely reading the menu at his favorite restaurant. Just cold. I wanted to kill him. Strangle him, rip his throat out… anything to make him understand the pain he had caused us with his callous delivery so that, maybe next time, he would show a little more tact when shattering two young people’s hopes. As we stepped out of the clinic that day, his words echoing in my head, the world completely lost color. Everything seemed to be in gray tones.
Should be. Those two syllables haunted us for a long time. A toxic combination of anger, bitterness, depression and inability to cope properly proved too much for us to handle, and we eventually parted ways. Lost and frustrated, I wanted an explanation. Why us? Why now? What if…? Infinite questions. Zero answers. I started to wonder if it was my fault. Maybe I had done something wrong, and this was my punishment.
But as time passed, I slowly made my peace with the idea that what was supposed to happen, in fact did. I can now look back and see the bigger picture I didn’t have the capacity to at the time. We were young and it was probably the most difficult thing either of us will endure in our lives, but it helped shape us into the people we have become. Had we not suffered that tremendous loss, we would not have the strength, wisdom or appreciation of our families and life in general that we have today. And though the relationship did not survive, a great friendship did, and for that I am forever thankful.
The whole situation taught me that time truly does heal wounds, but it doesn’t make you forget. So while children are getting pinched and drunks are pounding green beers, I will be thinking about a hyper little kid bouncing around up in Heaven, getting ready to blow out four candles.
Happy birthday, kiddo. Love, Dad.