CW: mentions of miscarriage and suicide
Dale was adamant. Adamant that chocolate chips belonged in banana bread, that health care should be universal, and that rap music is an acquired taste. He thought people who grew up with grandparents close-by had a deeper sense of security than those who didn’t, and that saying hello to people you passed, whether you knew them or not, was the foundation of civilization.
Dale was adamant. Adamant that I was the most beautiful girl he had ever been with and that he wanted to share his future with me. He had big dreams of trips we would take and places we would go. After dinner, we’d take long walks around the neighborhood stopping in somewhere on our stroll to meet up with neighbors or have a nightcap. “If we couldn’t get to Italy, we’d bring Italy to us,” he declared.
Dale was adamant. We didn’t need a big, fancy wedding to prove to the world that we were meant for each other, and we didn’t need to wait ‘til we graduated. “I’ve never loved anyone more in my whole life. Why wait?’ he reasoned, as I grabbed my coat and we headed for city hall.
Dale was adamant. “You’ll finish your degree one day,” he said, although my body told me that holding down a full-time job, trying to start a family, volunteering at the rehab center, and training for a 5K were about all I could handle, and that graduate courses would have to be a part of someone else’s life trajectory.
Dale was adamant. We would win the lottery, inherit an unexpected windfall, and move to a nicer neighborhood. We would stop the long commutes and the shitty jobs and have time to sit around with the kids we still didn’t have. We’d tell stories by the fireplace, either our own or at a cabin we’d rented in some magical place. There’d be snow and mugs of hot chocolate, or homemade glögg and candles if the kids were in bed.
Dale was adamant. Adamant that neither one of us would take up golf or crafts in retirement. We would travel extensively and read about all the places we’d go, and cultures and languages we would encounter. We would host wild birthday parties for our grandchildren without electronics or ponies, but with plenty of ice cream and cake and candles and wishes.
Dale was adamant. Conspiracy theories, while trendy, were poppycock. Except for one. He truly believed that you could fail a drug test if you consumed poppy seeds. “It’s true, Maddie. The Department of Health has warned that eating poppy seeds could cause a codeine positive urine analysis.” Every time he mentioned this, I wondered if he had a similar theory for why I continued to be barren.
Dale was adamant. I was going to get pregnant and we were going to be parents. He offered to adjust his diet with mine. We would eat foods that were rich in antioxidants like folate and zinc and take multi-vitamins by the handfuls. We would reduce our stress levels and focus on love-making and not procreating. We would cut down on caffeine and increase our iron intakes. We’d eat more garlic-or abandon it completely- as soon as he looked into what was best for conceiving.
Dale was adamant. We would not shelter our children and would not expose them to organized religion. We’d let our children make their own choices, simple things like which cereal to have for breakfast and which extra-curricular activities to participate in, so they’d become independent and confident in their ability to think for themselves. We’d share-but not impose- our values on our children and we’d stress that education is important, but it is even more important to be a nice person.
Dale was adamant. We had done ‘everything right’ in order to conceive, but we needed to do more. We needed to nest-build. So, over the next few weekends, we’d paint the baby’s room, buy a rocking chair, and assemble a crib. We’d visualize this baby into life. My head hurt. If visualization worked, I would be pregnant right now. I do not know what Dale will say when he realizes my body is not cooperating with his plan.
Dale was adamant. It was probably the car accident that provoked the miscarriage. Losing your best friend must have been a shock to the system and your body probably shut down. “We can try again,” he says. I nod, but there is so much blood and so much loss. I don’t know if I can.
Dale was adamant. The miscarriage was a setback, but it’s not the end. We can try in vitro or we can adopt. Maybe find a surrogate. Looking at me he adds, “You need to stop crying though. You really do.” I try, but I can’t.
Dale was adamant. I should talk to someone. My attitude is starting to affect this marriage. I cry too much. And if I’m not crying, I just seem so damn miserable. I stifle a sniffle when he tells me, “Not having a baby is not the end of the world. Not going to graduate school doesn’t mean you’re stupid or can’t get the job you want. And a lot of people have lost their best friend in car accidents, but they pick up the pieces and get on with their lives.” He could not see how low I had sunk. That I could no longer pull myself out of the dark hole I was in. That every word he spoke now was like a hand on top of my head holding me down beneath the dark soil of the earth.
Dale was adamant. He wanted a divorce. I have more issues than he was willing or able to deal with. He needed to move on. Be with someone else. And I needed to take care of my mental health challenges. Stop talking about killing myself. “Where did you think that was going to get you?” he asked concerned and annoyed in equal measures.
Dale was adamant. His new wife was not pleased he comes over here. I should know better than to talk about ending it all. I should know that threatening suicide is serious. “Sure, you’re feeling badly, but I know you, you’d never try to hurt yourself. You could never end your life. Right?” I didn’t tell him that I could, that I might, that I would.
Dale was adamant. But so was I.