What can YOU say in six sentences?
The house at 2839 Bratton Street was difficult to recognize when we drove by yesterday, the trees so much taller, the bricks warmer from an interior somehow more occupied.
It was the first house we lived in when we moved to SugarLand in July of 2003, one month before we married, a house rented from an attractive Chinese woman who thanked us profusely for taking care of it, though later she would keep most of our deposit to pay landscapers to tend her neglected yard.
During our six months on Bratton, my thirty-nine year old body was altered by a surgeon named Rosenfeld who reversed my tubal ligation, a gift and promise to the man I married, his dream, which was not negotiable.
The day after surgery, my pelvic area littered with tubes and black rubber bladders squeezed for pain relief, I cooked bacon and eggs for my husband. I was happy the surgery was over, that I'd crossed the bridge I was afraid to cross, only I was mistaken; the bridge still loomed ahead.
Within six weeks I was pregnant, numbed by the shock of a pink smile or plus sign -- I can't remember which.
I lost the first baby, which wasn't a baby at all but a blighted ovum or frightening mass of chaos. It was my first miscarriage which felt like a mini-labor, still painful enough that I couldn't walk during contractions or drive without squinting as invisible hands forced me open.
I remember resting on the brown leather sofa, the waves of pain that were to my mind a relief. My first two children were almost grown; I was not ready to raise another.
Six months later I was pregnant again, forty weeks of toggling between joy and despair, the worst moments spent focused on the baby's occasional stillness then wondering if she was still alive, just shy of hoping she was not.
The depression continued postpartum, my autoimmunity attacking in bloody patches of psoriasis on both elbows, mastitis fevers and joint pain, then throughout my child's first year of life this inescapable apathy she must have sensed, her tiny being slowly convinced that, from conception, she was not lovable.
She has always talked too much, her chatter and performances like a chronic need for approval, for assurance that she not only exists, but is worthy of existence.
She is likely the most beautiful child in the world, in the history of the world, so bright and eager to love. But there are moments when I wrap my arms around this perfection and still feel the hollow between us, some gaping hole that feels both solid and empty.
I often admire her credits, splints on a soft doll -- her trophy won in SugarLand's "Cutest Contest", colorful silk ribbons for dance, art and The Hen & Her Chick on piano; I stare at the photos of her on horseback, or the copyrighted video of this black-haired beauty in aqua tulle, this Alice In Wonderland on Houston's famous Wortham stage.
I know I love her, deep down in contiguous moments that run backward to the beginning of time, the beginning of me inside my own mother, the accident my mother referred to as a "surprise".
I wonder if my mother struggled to accept my mirror, an image too soon or too late, the one of too many who would talk too much, who would never stop dancing for the mother, the teacher, the boss and every man, the continuous child born to please an empty house.