Last year, during the week I knew I was pregnant, there was a night when the smell of the litter box was really getting to me. I asked Jimi to clean it; he said he would, then went back to doing what he'd been doing before I'd asked. I'm sort of a bitch in that when I ask someone to do something, I sort of expect them to get up right that minute and go do it; Jimi makes me crazy, because he NEVER gets right up and gets on it. He asks me for a glass of water, I'm up and getting it before he finishes the last word in his request; I ask him for a glass of water, and 2 minutes later he's still sitting there so I just get up and do it myself. That was the way it went the night of the cat box, too. I asked, he acknowledged and didn't move, so I did it myself. Once he figured out that I wasn't waiting for him to get to it in his own time, he ran downstairs and took over for me, lecturing me on how I shouldn't be messing with cat shit blah blah blah. "Yeah, but I can't stand smelling it, either, and if you weren't going to clean it, then someone had to."
Fast forward over a year, to last week. That pregnancy is long gone, reduced to nothing more than a handful of shattered dreams and a line of demarcation in my life of "before" and "after". I think about it all the time, of course. Last week, I was explaining that to Jimi, how I can't make my brain turn off the baby switch, how I obsess with the idea of getting pregnant again but can't really picture life with a child, how I blame myself for the loss of a ball of cells that we already loved. "I blame myself too," he told me, and I looked at him through the tears I cry every time we talk on this subject. I was confused and surprised; he's never mentioned guilt before. "That night, with the litter box? I wonder if things would've been different if I'd just gotten up and done it when you asked me to. Maybe that caused something, you know?"
People write about heartbreak as a literal pain in their chest at the moment something tragic happens. I know that pain pretty good, I've felt it a few times - when I found out my first live-in boyfriend was cheating with a 17 year old mother, when my husband told me (over the phone, as I was driving to work, when he was 700 miles away) that he wanted a divorce, when my Momma told me (as I sat at the airport gate, waiting to catch my flight home to see her one last time) that my Granny had died. When I realized I was losing my baby. And then, when Jimi told me he thought it may have been his fault.
How could something so small, so brief, lead to all of this hurt, all these tears? If things had gone differently, would the end result have lead to an equal amount of happiness and laughter?