Hello again, My Wonderful Readers!
Sometimes art reflects life, and vice versa. If you can recall a number of weeks ago I posted the happy news that my wife and I had received a positive pregnancy test. That I was going to be a daddy…
Well, the only thing to develop was the gestational sac. For the weeks that followed no heartbeat came, and by week seven we were being advised to terminate. But we learned of cases where a heartbeat and such hadn’t developed until later. Week nine, ten, even sometimes fourteen and beyond! So we waited awhile longer, not in denial, just in hope.
By week twelve in was apparent that nothing else would develop, as the sac was now decreasing in size and losing it’s form. So, brokenhearted but not defeated, we moved forward toward our road of starting over.
So yeah, sometimes life can influence art, and so I decided to embrace such with today’s story. (Hence the intentional reflection in the cover photo.)
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It was nearly 2AM by the time Richard and his wife were able to get settled into her hospital room, he having spent the past few hours pacing in mind and body as she underwent a D&C.
Dilation and Curettage, the name even made him cringe. It was a procedure to follow their recent sad news of a miscarriage, necessary to clean out the uterus.
At this late hour the hospital cafeteria was closed, the couple having missed dinner and doubting they could sleep on an empty stomach. And so it was decided that he would venture out to a 24-hour McDonald’s a few blocks away, where he would eat his meal there, then order hers on his way out.
During the ten minutes it had taken Richard to walk those darkened lonely streets his thoughts drifted to an optimistic future. According to their doctor they still had a great chance of conceiving a child again, statistics showing that most women who suffer from such loss going on to have normal healthy pregnancies the second time around. And so he had hope that they would have wonderful news by the time the Holiday Season came around.
But he still couldn’t help but wonder; what happened to you, my precious child? Where are you now?
For being in the middle of the night the restaurant was surprisingly busy, but Richard was able to find a somewhat intimate spot in a far off corner of the dining area, He set a reminder on his phone so he wouldn’t forget to order his wife’s dinner before he left, then looked up at the food sitting in front of him. Two meals; one for himself, and one for…
He hadn’t been able to stop himself from ordering that Happy Meal. He placed it on the table, in front of the empty seat across from him, then proceeded to squeeze out ketchup and insert straws into the drinks.
Richard tried to keep his focus as he ate, glancing around at the other diners and not so much towards the uneaten Happy Meal. It had been a fantasy of his pretty much all his life. To share with his future child things he had experienced while growing up. But now…
To try and keep his composure he picked up his cell and started texting his wife, but decided not to press send, just in case she was getting some sleep. Sitting up from another bite of his burger, Richard froze as he suddenly caught sight of a young woman sitting in front of him.
She couldn’t have been no more than half his age, early twenties, dressed sophisticated yet casual, a smile on her youthful face, those eyes…
“Oh sorry, I didn’t hear you sit down,” he said to her. “Here, I’ll get this out of your way.” But before he could reach the Happy Meal her reply grabbed him by the heart and he was once again frozen in stillness.
“Thank you for the Happy Meal, dad. Is this how they looked back when you were a kid?”
Richard gave a quick glance around the restaurant. Was this some kind of cruel joke? No, it couldn’t be. He didn’t know anyone who would do such a thing.
“Sorry, dad, I didn’t mean to shock you. I just wanted to let you know…”
Now she was the one at a loss for words, not that it was becoming any easier for him. She kept calling him ‘dad’, causing him to fight back tears.
He could see now, what, who those eyes of hers reminded him of.
“Um- Yeah, those Happy Meals still pretty much still look the same. I used to be crazy about the E.T. themed ones. Must have been about thirty-five years ago.
“How… Are you a figment of my imagination?”
“No, I’m really here. I’ve been watching since you and mom found out I was on the way. But up until now I was only in a spiritual form. I mean, I pretty much still am, but for some reason I was given this opportunity. I don’t know, it’s like a greater energy let it happen. One that we’re all in. I don’t really understand it all, but it’s letting me know enough to know that we’ll stay together.”
She even talks like me.
“Not like this,” she continued to explain, “I’ll have to leave in a minute, but I’ll be her in spirit though, waiting for next time.
“Right in time for Christmas,” she said with a smile.
Richard’s brain was scrambling. There were so many things he wanted to say, wanted to ask, the emotion now getting the best of him as tears began to well up in his eyes.
“We’ve waited for so long,” he finally said. “Been through so much. Financial hardships, natural disasters, an affair… There were so many times when we were just hanging on by a thread.
“I want to believe you, but-“
He picked up his phone and took a picture.
On the screen, nothing but an empty chair.
“Dad, it’s really me, Chardnay, I promise. And I love the name you chose for me. There are so many memories floating inside me right now. Memories that haven’t happened in this present time yet, but they’re real, I promise. They’re-”
She reached out to grab his hand, and in so doing transported the both of them into the memories she spoke of…
— Father and daughter reading a book together.
— Her first day of school.
— Father teaching daughter how to ride a bike.
— Father and daughter at a museum.
— At a concert.
— At a sporting event.
— At her high school graduation.
— At a McDonald’s.
Now back in the present, Chardnay lifted her hair and turned around to show her father the back of her neck. There was a birthmark the size of a bracelet charm, in the shape of a book. “So you know it was really me, dad. Remember it.”
“I always will,” he said.
She was now beginning to fade away, the welled-up tears in Richard’s eyes now falling uncontrollably.
“Just a few more months, daddy.”
“I love you,” he cried.
“I love you too…”
With just a trace of her form left, Richard desperately called out, “Chardnay…?”
“Yes, daddy?” She was able to hang on for a moment longer…
“It wasn’t me.”
“It wasn’t me. I wasn’t the one who cheated.”
A touching smile came over her face. “I know.”
And then she was gone.
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