A letter to J.S.

I prayed for you today. We’ve never met. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. Books could be filled with all the details of your story that I don’t know. What is your name? How did this happen? What do you dream? What is it like to be you? Are you happy? I try to fill in a haiku for what I know…what little I know. But there’s not enough there to make 17 syllables, when all I have are 5.

J.S.
pregnant
scared

You think I can’t understand, and maybe you’re right. I don’t know what it feels like to read the stick with two lines and feel the panic rise into my throat threatening to choke the life from me. Thinking this new life will end mine. I’ve read the stick with two lines three times now. I’ve felt differently each time, but….you’re right. I haven’t walked in your shoes.

But I do know what it feels like to be scared. To know that I don’t have what it takes to get through it. I do know what it feels like to be trapped. To know there is no escape that won’t cost me more than I have. I do know what it feels like to regret.

And if you walk down the path you’re headed, I know what it feels like to be ashamed.

You came in alone. Filled out paperwork and were brought to a room, and on the other side of the wall, I sat, with three beside me and we prayed for you. And though I don’t have enough words to fill a haiku for what I know about you, I have these that formed my prayer. My hope for you, J.S.

Two heartbeats ring out
One fast and one slow
Give each a chance

Lay down your life to give him one
Yes love, it costs much
To be Mother

I don’t plead for baby alone
You both go on
Far longer than you know

Breathing

Writing is in my bones. From as early as I can remember, it hasn’t been so much something I like as something I need. Nobody likes to breathe. We need it to survive. Writing is the release that exhaling is, for me. If I hold my breath too long, the pressure from all the words in me builds and burns until- I exhale. Then they come spilling out and I take the mess on the page and clean it up, just enough so that it makes sense. Not so much that it’s not true. And then there’s space inside me again.