If only it were that easy.
I stopped, pulled over into the shaded parking lot of an all-you-can-eat buffet where I got into the back seat, leaving the keys in the ignition and the A/C going so it wouldn't get too hot while I nursed her. An older lady wearing glasses and a white blouse knocked on the window to tell me my lights were on. I replied "I know," a second time after she pointed again to the front of the truck to warn me my lights were on. I patted the baby on her back, walked around with her outside, swayed back and forth, only later noticing thick whitish streams of spit-up on my shoulder and in the crook of my elbow. I pointed out the Spanish moss, asked her if the breeze felt good.
|Austen (9 March 2012)|
After a half hour or so of this, she seemed happy again, so I buckled her in and set out again. We made it a mile or two further before I turned the car around.
She screamed some more and I was never so sorry to be alone -- for her sake. I needed to be both places: behind the wheel, steering us home, and in the back with her consoling her, interacting, making sure she knew she wasn't alone. I reached a hand back while driving to stroke her head. I said soothing words to her, I kept saying we would be home soon. I wished sleep for her until we were safely home. If only.
But then it was brake lights, stop and go downtown traffic at rush hour. She kept crying, so I pulled over at a gas station in a part of town no one wants to be in where a woman in a denim jacket and black spandex skirt said to me, "Listen, I'm not on drugs or anything, but I'm begging. Please help me. I need money." I was standing outside the truck, patting the baby's back, rocking an inconsolable Austen back and forth and gently shushing in her ear. My ears were ringing from her cries, and I wiped tears away from the corners of her eyes with the pads of my fingers. I wanted to help, but I couldn't just now. I had nothing to give her. I needed to help my daughter. My mission was singular: get her home.
And finally we made it back, two and a half hours after turning around in the parking lot of a jewelry store. I held her, fed her, changed her. She smiled, cooed, and laughed at me again. Those smiles have never been so sweet and after all that crying, I didn't want to let her go, needing to hold her as much as she needed to be held. She's asleep now, the kind of deep sleep her mama has enjoyed after so much crying. I hope that when she wakes up, she will feel rested, refreshed.
|January 30, 2011|
I will miss the time we would have had with my friend in a place that is so special to us -- the place where I felt alive for the first time since Ewan died, and with the dear friend who was with me when it happened. But my place is here now at home, beside the sleeping little girl who never gurgled and cooed so sweetly in her sleep. She is mine, and I am hers.