Saying goodbye before Hello

Written By: Jessica  Gold

I kicked the sand hard at Cupsogue Beach, and the waves retaliated by spraying salty mist right into my face. Up my nose it went with a driving force causing me to sneeze. I was so angry, with a fierceness I threw a rock into the waves. “Take that” I yelled into the ocean (and quite a bunch of other choice words), throwing it like a fastball thrown by Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. It skipped a couple of times, causing me to pause and watch. My mind was watching the rock jump, skip, splat. But it was enough of a reprieve to stop me from being a stark raving lunatic. I drove my feet into the sand, as they were quickly covered by the wave swooping back from the shore. It felt like a sudden sinking into quicksand; a true metaphor of how I felt. Stuck in one place, being pulled by a force that I couldn’t control. Why was life so unfair at times? I had thought that a million times since the day that I had left the hospital. The day that I had to say goodbye, before I even had the chance to say hello. I spent many summers in the Hamptons; peaceful, relaxing, idyllic summers just sitting on the beach, a tall glass of lemonade, some bread, fruit and cheese spread out before me. My husband and I had some romantic dates at outdoor cafes, summer concerts at the Westhampton Gazebo, and walking by the boats eating Haagen Daz (strawberry for me, Mint chocolate chip from him). We’d share strawberry-mint kisses while sitting on the dock, dreams of our lives together fully in place. He soon “put a ring on it” aka Beyoncé, and our lives together begun. Our story is quite typical to that point. I am a teacher who reads the novel Maniac Magee with my students. It’s a great novel if you haven’t read it. A young boy in a horrible family situation sets out to find a place to live; a family to call his own. He is someone who is “colorblind”, blind to the judgments and prejudices of this world. He sees people for their hearts, not their appearances. I love that, I love truly seeing a human being for their actions. The novel is divided into parts. Part 1 describes one aspect of his life, part 2 another etc. You get the idea. I look at my life as “Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, etc.. Part 1….birth until marriage. Part 2 marriage until pregnancy, Part 2 stillbirth until adoption. Part 2 was the toughie, the reason that I was sinking into the quicksand, and throwing rocks ferociously into the waves. Our son, Derek, died before he had even had the chance to take his first breath. He was stillborn in my 38th week of pregnancy, 10 days before my due date. They didn’t even give me a stuffed animal to hold. I literally delivered my son after 12 hours of labor, was told a series of “how sad”, “we’re so sorry”, “you’re young, it will happen”, put into a wheelchair while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was playing on the tv everywhere in the hospital, and wheeled out empty-armed to my husband’s car and told just to go on. The winter months dragged after that. I fought depression, I consumed myself with the thoughts of getting pregnant again, having my dream come true. It did; and again I had to say goodbye. This time it was baby Lauren who I never got to meet. The character Maniac, in the novel runs every single time that he faces a challenge. He was a child, I felt like a child. I just wanted to run and keep running. My life just was a big pit of misery, and I couldn’t crawl out of it. I found solace in the beach. I would do my coursework for my post-masters credits, fill out the paperwork with our adoption agency (yes, we had decided to adopt!!!!), and head down to the beach. I would find a spot away from others, and journal. I would just let it all out in words; cathartic sentences that were blurred on the paper with my tears. But I released it, and then I would throw the rocks. Thank you mother nature for providing me with a weapon; a symbol of my anger, of my grief that I could so easily find and projectile into the ocean. Therapy came cheap that summer! So part 3 began that following January. The adoption agency called, and delivered the amazing news that we were matched with a beautiful baby boy. His birthday sent me into waves of shock, it was Thanksgiving Day, exactly one year later from the day that I had delivered Derek stillborn. I cried, yet I rejoiced in the news; this was truly meant to be. Adoption is honestly such a beautiful thing. My husband is adopted; loved by his parents, and recently found by his birthmom. It is the blending of all sorts of cultures without judgement or prejudice (yay, Maniac Magee). It changed my life, and rocked my world. On June 11th of that year, six months after being matched with our beautiful baby boy, he arrived at Kennedy airport blowing raspberries and crying at all the cameras taking pictures of him; following us around like Paparrazi, capturing one of the most amazing moments of our life. I had a child!!!! Where do you think was one of the first places that we headed with our son? To the beach, and to the spot where I sat day after day crying, angry at the world, journaling, throwing those precious rocks. I sat on the beach and cried, just let it all out as I watched my son sitting on a blanket in the sand. I looked forward to those moments where I could watch him grow, watch him play in the sand, watch him jump in the waves and happily throw rocks. I sat down and grabbed two big rocks, took a Sharpie and wrote the names of the two that I lost: Derek and Lauren on them. As I sang softly, holding my son in my arms, I took each of the rocks and threw them into the ocean saying my goodbyes. I was ready to be happy and start Part 4 of my life.