Family and Relationships
The first [part of the series] documents a day in Lewis’s life in Salem, Missouri, when she was a carefree seventeen-year-old who often skipped school and tried on the wedding dress she kept packed away in her hope chest. The second part was made a year later, after Lewis was married and pregnant. The year was 1969.
She is pushed in through the door of the rural Mississippi clinic where I work. Behind her is movement, the rise and fall of slurred voices. Then a cluster of people crowd in behind her. But Lulu stands where she was pushed. She looks at me. I look at her, but not for long.
Always before it had been of no consequence: someone else’s intensive care. It had meant nothing to her in her normal life that, all day and all night, through waxing and waning moons and in every season, a child balanced on the eggshell edge of life, and someone else simply waited.
“I’m sorry,” I say, finally, and she nods. Neither of us cries. My own two aborted pregnancies come to mind. It was never the right time to bring a child into this world; it was too much responsibility. But Linda has done it, and done it badly, done the unforgivable — damaged her own child. How could you? I think. But then, what mother doesn’t? The only other choices are do it perfectly, or don’t do it at all. And how can you make any choice when you’re not in control of your own life? How can you deal with this awesome female power to create new life among the garbage and broken glass of old mistakes?