Breakfast with Billie Holiday Ch. 02byHeathen Hemmingway©
'Gloomy is Sunday,
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles
And prayers that are said I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I'm caressin' you
With the last breath of my soul
I'll be blessin' you'
My wife Virginia was the first true love of my life, and I loved her with a ferocity and dedication that I didn't know I was capable of until she came along and made me a hopeless captive to her many charms, with a careless ease and grace. She knew I was crazy in love with her, and she never made me regret it for a single moment. Losing her was such a blow that I found myself changed for the rest of my life. She passed away weeks after her thirtieth birthday.
She was slender and petite, a girl who blossomed into womanhood to develop a natural dancer's physique that so many women would beg for. Her hair was a soft strawberry blonde that always left me aching to touch it, and her eyes were a steely slate-blue. She was the true center of my universe, the greatest and grandest thing that life had ever given me. She was beautiful in so many unique and peculiar ways. Of all of her natural feminine charms, her stomach held the most fascination for me, a perfectly smooth expanse of soft skin with a firm musculature just underneath. I never once saw her do a sit-up or any other manner of exercise, she was simply blessed with a beautiful tummy. I spent many nights with my head resting on her stomach after a lively bout of lovemaking, feeling the strong pull and draw of her breath. It was a warm cradle for me to rest, a place where I found the most peaceful sleep of my life. She always indulged me, flattered I suppose. I never told her, but kissing her navel was as exciting to me as kissing her most intimate places.
She was a true Southern Belle and the love of my life. She had many habits and pastimes, all of which fascinated me to no end, but her favorite recreation was collecting silver. She would go on day-long expeditions to bring one home a single piece of silver, something precious and rare that had a history to it that appealed to her inquisitive nature. She was fiercely intelligent woman who found great pleasure in the simplest of things. I imagine that is why she was with me. I remember while on vacation In Charleston, she spent an entire day in the markets, tolerating the shoulder-to shoulder tourists and stifling heat to emerge victorious with a purple fabric pouch that was home to a gleaming silver rice spoon, a rather historic item that was reminiscent of Charleston itself. It always gave me great pride to see her with her prize; it reminded me of why I loved her so.
We both came from large families with plenty of children always around, and early on we both knew that we wanted to have children, or at least one child. Of all the many things star-crossed lovers discuss in the quiet hours of the night, we talked about having our own children the most. We pondered who they would resemble and whose mannerisms they would adopt. Having kids became a dream that we both shared, but we both agreed that we were in no rush; when the time was right it would happen. I proposed to her on a rainy Christmas night, and we were married on Valentine's Day the next year.
Her ring was made of silver, of course, with a brilliant round diamond sitting proudly atop the band. It cost me roughly four months worth of savings, but from the moment I saw it I knew she would dearly love it. The ring was dearly expensive, yes, but when I thought of seeing her eyes upon giving it to her, I may have as well been paying in pennies. I didn't work hard my entire life to stress over being able to buy what I want. And for Virginia, anything was worth the asking price.
Since Virginia collected silver I decided to buy her a special gift for the day we were to bring our new baby home. I spent an entire day in the markets, mucking around until I came across my prize. I was about to resign myself to failure when I saw it, hanging there like a beacon lit for wayward travelers. It was a mobile for a baby's crib, draped with delicate silver chains and bells. In the center was a big silver sun with a heart-shaped cutout in the center. It hung from a thin silver chain with a small hook on the end. It was just like her, delicate and pretty. I snuck it home while she was away, wrapping it gingerly in a brown paper bag and hiding it in old green ammo can. I have probably a dozen of the things; I use them for storing all manner of odds and ends.
In the months that followed, Virginia and I spent the greater part of our energy and time trying to conceive, and it was a wonderful time filled with many sticky, passionate nights and countless impulsive moments. After almost two months passed with no results, we told ourselves that we were doing the one thing we were determined not to; we were rushing it. So we resolved to approach lovemaking as we did before we decided it was time for her to be pregnant, which was to be intimate at every given opportunity, but to never schedule it or make otherwise unordinary changes to our lives. Without realizing it, we had become preoccupied with having a child, and the thought of it consumed our lives in a way. After the third and then the fourth month passed, I could see a definite sense of gloom in her beautiful slate-blue eyes, and seeing her live with the anguish made my heart sink. We sat down after dinner one night and discussed our options, and we mutually agreed that our best option would be to see a fertility expert.
"We're not done yet, sweetheart." I told her."Lots of couples go through this, and I believe we're going to be just fine."
"I believe you." She told me, but there were tears welling up in her eyes, and seeing Virginia cry tickled an instinct deep inside me that made me either want to fix the thing that was wrong enough to make her cry, or to tear the bastard to shreds that was foolish enough to make her cry. Only this time it wasn't some thing or some person, it was the damnable unique ache that only a woman can feel when she wants so badly to have a child, but lives with the lingering fear that she cannot.
In the weeks that followed, she seemed to wither and shrink with each trip to the fertility clinic, and that pained look in her eyes had almost driven me into a panicked rage at times. I wanted our child for myself and the both of us, but I must admit that I lived with a stubborn determination that if my Virginia wanted anything, anything, by damn she was going to have it. She was a genuine soul who rarely asked anything of me that I didn't give to her freely; therefore when she did want something, she got it. I wanted for her to have her child, to live in that moment that I knew she dreamed of.
I never liked the idea of keeping secrets from her. It's just not who I am. I did, however, make one exception. As I was driving home from the hardware store one afternoon I noticed a sign sitting high off of the shoulder of the road. It had a picture of a woman holding a newborn swaddled in a pink blanket, a blissful smile on her face as she looked down at the peaceful, sleeping baby in her arms. 'Is adoption right for you?' The sign read, with a phone number and address below the picture. Without realizing what I was doing, I stabbed the brakes hard, turned the wheel quickly to the right and spun around, heading back into town. Less than fifteen minutes later I was standing in front of the adoption clinic, a small part of wondering just what in hell I was doing. I opened the door and nervously stepped inside.
After a short wait I found myself sitting in front of a huge oak desk, speaking to a short, slender lady with mousy brown hair. She was instantly likeable, a woman who smiled gently and looked at me with compassion and agreement. Most importantly, I believed that she was a woman who Virginia would like. I thanked her for seeing me on such short notice, and as I left I formulated a plan. If we weren't able to conceive within the next six weeks, we would return and discuss adopting a child. I simply would not allow myself the thought of denying Virginia a child, I could not fail her.
When I arrived home, Virginia met me at the door. It was not all too uncommon for her, and truthfully it was one of the many small things I loved about her, being greeted by her after a long and hard day at the train yards. She stood there with the screened door open for me, and as our eyes met I could see something was different about her. That fatigued look of apprehension mixed with fear was gone, but it was replaced with something I couldn't quite describe. Before I could say a word she threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly. I wrapped my arms around her, and she was crying on my shoulder.
"Baby what is it?" I asked, half afraid of what she might say.
"I'm pregnant." She whispered, and then began to cry even more.
To Be Continued
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