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I have only recently said goodbye to him

Before that time I think I’d told most everyone about Weslee Brian Condes, the love of my life, the one that got away. By the time Chris and I were together, it had been just over three years since goodbye came into my life in such an awful way that Valentine’s Day weekend. But it had taken that long for me to stop being afraid to tell everyone about him. What had happened dug deep into my soul but I’d never, ever, felt SAFE talking about him. I had never felt like both my loss and the circumstances SURROUNDING my loss wouldn’t be a dark cloud of shame that hovered over. Because, you see, I was a Christian… a part of a very conservative denomination of Christianity, and I wasn’t married at the time.

Weslee was my son.

His father was a fling, and a DUMB fling to boot. Scott was religious and strong and friendly and funny, but he wasn’t kind. He tried at kind a few times, but he didn’t really ever get it down. He knew that I was interested in him, despite the age gap between us (sixteen years). Despite the two children he ALREADY had. Despite the crazy ex-wife. Did I mention that it was a DUMB fling yet? But he wasn’t all that interested in me. He was interested in getting laid. And I was interested in fighting off the sense of hopelessness after my last rejection.

And so it was that one night Scott had followed me home to “work on my resume” (now THERE’S an innuendo you wouldn’t expect) after we’d spent the day at the 2004 Irish-Fest. My doctor had told me that it’d be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to get pregnant, so we hadn’t used any birth control. And then, as the cliché goes, “I’ve never seen anyone get dressed that fast.”

Scott and I went on like that for about four weeks before I decided that not only was this not what I wanted, but it wasn't what he wanted. It was nice to feel desired, but both of us had that miserably conflicted feeling that came from believing you were supposed to behave one way, and actually behaving another. “We have to stop Scott,” I told him. “We can be friends, but neither of us wants this. This isn’t really us.”

Well, it wasn’t really ME, anyway. Over the next few months I’d find out just how HIM it was, but the truth was that neither of us really did want this kind of relationship. I hated sleeping with a guy who never stayed the night and rarely stayed laying down long enough to get his breath back, and he hated himself for being that guy (or just for being… I was never sure.)

It didn't occur to me until later that night how overdue my period was. The next morning I called my best friend Aaron, leaving my ominous news on his voicemail: “There were two lines.”

It was October. We began telling friends, and receiving judgments (not to mention demands and commands), and I moved in with a family I’d known since high school after being kicked out of my apartment. In November, I went with Scott to a Thanksgiving celebration with his kids, and he met my Dad on the way home. In December, he actually TOLD the kids. “Are you pargnent?” asked his son Henri. Kaylee, Henri’s older sister, was pissed at her Dad, but still doted on me (and hoped for a baby sister.) In January a family I’d been close to disowned me because I wouldn’t break up with Scott and put the baby up for adoption. That, to them, was the wisest and “most Godly” thing to do in our situation. According to them, we’d committed a grave sin by having sex before marriage, and for us to stay together was to spit in the face of possible forgiveness. In that state, we couldn’t possibly expect to raise a child in a good Christian environment.

In early February, we found out that he was a boy. Kaylee stomped her feet and threw her fists. Henri asked “Since Weslee’s your son and Weslee’s my brother, can I call you Mom?” I never knew what to say to that… but I never minded, either. I’m pretty sure Henri’s Mom did.

I took off work for Valentine’s Day in 2005 because Scott and I were trying so desperately to have a real relationship and he’d had the idea to go on a road trip together. We drove to French Lick, Indiana which turned out to be a bust, and then stopped off in Nashville, Indiana on the way home, where he bought me an amethyst ring. He intended to marry me and raise our son together like he hadn't his other kids, although he wasn't fond of the marriage part.

And then it was the Thursday after Valentine’s Day, and I was at work with the worst heartburn I’d ever experienced. It was the February 17th and I was planning to stay after work to get more done, but I felt too terrible so I drove home. A few hours later I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating ice-cream and Tums and trying to make the gassy feeling go away. A half-hour after that, one of my roommates suggested I try taking a shower to calm my muscles. As an afterthought she added, “Sometimes contractions feel like gas.” I insisted that I wasn’t having contractions, but my body begged to differ. And, as Michael and Matt, father and son, carried my entire pregnant mass to the family’s van after I got out of the shower, they begged to differ as well.

In the hospital there was little hope, but I clung to it like a line lowered to a child caught in a well. I hadn’t planned on having a baby out of wedlock with an angry self-loathing man who already HAD two children, but I loved my son all the same. I had sung him lullabies and read him stories in the months that he was with me, living in my belly. I had every intention of doing whatever it took to ensure his well-being and happiness once he was born. I loved him more than breath. One day I was planning my life around his, and then, in a few hours, he was kicking me for the last time. A numbness came over me as a nurse told me, “I’m sorry, your baby is dead.”

I don’t remember the next day very well. I vaguely recall friends visiting me in the hospital. I had never felt death touch me that closely before. It was INSIDE of me. But, for a while after that, despite the great black hole in my chest that pulled at everything around it, I thought that I might survive. Instead, as the weeks wore on, I found myself unable to talk about my loss to my ashamed friends who either didn’t understand or, worse, pretended they did.

I did survive, somehow, and eventually left those friends and that religion that had filled us all with such shame. But here I was, three years later, with new friends and a new freedom and still trying to figure out how to say goodbye.

And so the question came up.

I’d considered before the possibility of never having any more children. Not only did the chance remain that the same thing could happen again (I went into premature labor with Wes due to placenta previa and it was entirely possible it would strike my next pregnancy as well), but I was getting to that age that I really didn’t WANT any more children. I loved OTHER people’s kids… but I didn’t really feel like I was the person to provide for a child for eighteen years (at least), and do it well. I wanted to keep being Aunt Crys to my nephews and niece and just Crystal to friends’ children… but I didn’t want to give birth. Sometimes I felt like I SHOULD… because I’d lost Wes, and I’d lost that chance to have a baby in my arms. But had I really? Was it really GONE? Or was it just going to take another form? In the ensuing years I’d found friends, family, and pseudo-family, with children of their own who needed the kind of guidance that a parent just can’t give, but that I could be close enough to offer. I never felt particularly wise or even learned, but I know how to treat people as people, no matter HOW old they are. I think that as a parent one can sometimes forget that. I didn’t want to forget it.

I am never going to get Wes back, whether I get pregnant again or not. I have at times looked back for him, hoping to find him in old hopes and dreams.  At other times I have looked forward for him, wondering if I’d find him in another child.  The undeniable truth, however, is that he is gone. I can’t say WHERE he’s gone.  For a long time I considered him “in the arms of Jesus”, but I haven’t believed in Jesus for over a year-and-a-half, and so the best that I can give myself is that my son will be forever alive in my heart.

What is remembered, lives.

It feels almost scandalous at times that I was, and am, happy. I haven’t heard anything from Scott for a couple of years now. I am happy without more children. I am now, three years later, in a healthy, honest relationship with a man who adores me and WANTS to marry me.

Chris and I recently had a conversation about whether or not we wanted to have children, and I was honest with myself… I didn’t. After years of wondering, wishing, and worrying, I had decided that I didn’t want to get pregnant again. I didn’t want to have any more. And it was in this way, that I was finally able to let go of my son.

I visited his grave shortly after that. We didn’t cry, my little boy and I. We didn’t hug one another. We just, both of us, quietly accepted reality together. I knew and know that anytime I need him, I can quite easily find him. But I let go of the potential, and let him be what he was and always will be. I stopped looking back.

I have one child. He may be all I ever have, and he is gone. And still… he is enough.

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crysthewolf

September 2010

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