Ella’s Grace (Verse 2)
a series on the pursuit of happiness
Long before I’d met Ella in Birmingham, I was already fighting for her, and by her side.
A messenger broke my heart one day, and in one fell swoop, while removing all semblance of spirituality, demolished everything I thought was good in this world. I’ve subconsciously prevented myself from ever recalling his name, remembering as little about that encounter as humanly possible.
You see, shortly before Birmingham crossed my mind, there was Pensacola and a specialist, who over the course of two hours, brought me to a place so dark and forsaken that I hated him so. The nonchalant nature of his voice. The diagnosis he casually outlined. Every time he said sorry and didn’t mean it, because it was my pregnant wife who could barely utter a word, and our daughter who’s life was already so imperfect, before she was ever born.
I’ve harbored those feelings for a long time now.
And though that morning will forever be a resounding blur, I remember being at a nearby restaurant trying to order lunch, broken and undone, wondering what the hell just happened. If a seemingly untroubled specialist was all we had, I didn’t know if anyone would ever give a damn. And even so, whether anyone would care to help.
We had no idea what to do, who to call, or what we’d even say. So we sat there for a good while.
I was pissed at the world, bitter as hell and unsure if a future was possible. Six months pregnant, my wife battled her own demons, dealing with guilt I’ll never begin to understand. I felt for her yet somehow managed to leave the next morning, finding myself at the corner of a conference table, my commander on the other edge, awaiting words that just wouldn’t come out. His blues eyes forever sharp and distinct. There was empathy in his heart. I knew it, but I still hadn’t said a thing.
We sat quietly in that room, and I cried. Trying to explain duodenal atresia. A life-threatening, congenital heart defect. Down Syndrome, and what it meant for our baby.
We never came to talking about that morning, he and I. Just went on to move mountains that needed moving. And so it’s taken ten years to share that I broke down in that room, when I was supposed to be strong and brave. Truth is, it was difficult and always will be.
Perhaps I’ll learn to forgive myself one day, because looking back, I’m not sure it could’ve happened any other way. Turns out that letting go, and falling, was really the first step forward.
P.S. This is the second of three. Please go on to read Verse 3, and share with others as we continue learning more about one another, one story at a time.