There never had been a more beautiful pregnant woman. I know that a lot of guys might say that about the future mother of their child, but they're lying. Farryn Morgan, even in her third trimester, was still a knock-out. Pregnancy only amplified her looks. Never before had she looked so vibrant, so vivacious, and she was carrying our daughter. My daughter.
* * * * * * *
The first couple of weeks that she lived with my family had been a little awkward. She had never met either of my parents and nothing makes a first impression like showing up two months pregnant. "Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Farryn and your son knocked me up." Yeah, it was rough for a little while. But once my mother had gotten past the fact that we were not getting married, Farryn had transitioned into our household rather easily. My parents had fallen in love with her.
I, had fallen in love with her.
Our lives were forever entwined by the baby growing within her, but I'd like to think there were stronger ties that were binding us to one another. I, the anti-romantic, had begun to have some very real feelings for the girl that was never supposed to have been anything serious.
So we didn't have a traditional love story. We'd never end up with monogrammed hand towels or stand in line at the City Hall for a marriage license. We didn't even know how long we would stay together. She was in every sense of the word, my girlfriend, but it was enough for me.
* * * * * * *
Farryn's pregnancy had been smooth sailing. Sure, there was a brief moment where she had considered an alternative route. After all, she and Go barely knew each other and she had no idea how he felt about having a baby with someone like herself. It turned out that having this baby didn't mean that they would be stuck with each other for all eternity after all. Nothing had to change. They would take things one day at a time and would deal with decisions as they happened. Farryn was shocked to find out that Go was ecstatic about having a baby with her. He was so gentle, so attentive to her needs, that all of her feelings began to deepen and all of her previous notions about relationships were shattered.
Stolid, emotionless Go had thawed out into someone who cared, who had feelings. He was constantly concerned about her diet and whether she was eating enough. He'd give her back massages every morning and rub her swollen feet at night. She didn't know what their future held, as parents or lovers, but it didn't matter.
Yes, the baby's first months had been filled with happiness and love. She never got tired of watching him put his hand on her belly, experiencing their daughter inside her. They both treasured those moments and had reacted to each kick, each nudge, with delight. After all, that is how all moments should be savored, like every one is the first, because nobody expects it to be the last.
* * * * * * *
At thirty-three weeks along, Farryn had gotten used to her body and the little girl cradled snugly inside of her. Olivia Grace, their unborn daughter, must have been an active swimmer, with all of the activity going on in her mommy's tummy. But one morning, Farryn woke up, instinctively knowing that something was not right.
"Go," she called for her boyfriend, trying as hard as possible to not betray the panic that was steadily increasing by the second.
"Go, can you come here?"
"What's the matter, sweetheart?" he asked, rushing to her side.
She hesitated, looking up at the man she loved, knowing that the news she was about to give him would surely break his newly tender heart.
"It's Olivia. I can't feel her moving. I can't feel her moving at all," she choked out.
He literally gasped, as if all of the air in his lungs had been forced out. With effort, he managed to say, "my mother's at the store. I'll call her and see what she thinks we should do."
But Farryn knew, before Marilyn even answered the phone, that Olivia Grace was gone. Their baby was dead, never to see her parents faces. She would never sleep in the crib that Nate put together or wear the baby clothes that Marilyn had folded and put in her dresser. She would never learn how to walk or call Farryn "Mama" or Go "Daddy". The mistake that they had ended up wanting more than anything, was lost to them.
* * * * * * *
After a grueling examination with the obstetrician, they had decided that instead of waiting the two weeks it could take to deliver their daughter, it would be better to induce labor immediately. But standing at the hospital, Farryn couldn't bring herself to walk in. She knew that when they came out, they wouldn't be taking their baby home in a blanket, to be tucked inside her crib fast asleep. Instead, they would be making arrangements for her funeral, to place her in a box that would be buried in the ground, where she would rest in eternal slumber. It wasn't fair, she thought. Even though their daughter was no longer with them, Farryn couldn't help but dread walking through those doors. After eight months, she was experiencing the last moments she would spend as a pregnant woman and she wasn't ready to let go of Olivia Grace just yet.
* * * * * * *
For the first couple of days after we lost Olivia, Farryn and I had been close. She had relied on me to be the strong one. I comforted her when she would wake up from a bad dream, tears streaming down her face, sobbing into my shoulder. I held her as she would scream nonsensical words of anguish into my chest. They were silent sobs, silent screams, the sobs and screams that only a parent who had lost a child would understand. We understood and we clung to each other with the burden of learning something that should never be taught. And when she had tired herself out, she would collapse against me, exhausted.
When I was positive that Farryn was asleep, I would cross our bedroom, my flip-flopped feet making almost no noise on the hardwood floors. I would stare at the crib, the swing and the toy box that hadn't been moved since we had lost Olivia. Taking the things out of our room would finally make the Hell we had been living in for the past couple of days real and neither of us were ready to come to terms with that yet.
I would then pick up her teddy bear, holding it close to me, and it would be only then, that I would allow myself to cry for the daughter that I would never get to meet.
* * * * * * *
No parent should ever bury their child, but that was a tribulation Farryn had to endure alone. Go didn't show up for his own daughter's funeral. Instead, she was left with his parents, two people she was only beginning to feel comfortable with. They stood around her helplessly, as the tears streamed down her cheeks. They tried to whisper words of comfort but it was no use. There was no one who could make this right and the only person who could make it bearable, was M.I.A.
Farryn had no baby growing in her belly, no sweet-cheeked newborn swaddled in her arms. She had never felt so empty, so helpless. There were no words to describe this feeling. Marilyn and Nate finally left so the young mother could mourn alone. She didn't come home for hours.
* * * * * * *
A year passed. I went through the motions but my brain was on auto-pilot, my body performing all the necessary functions in order to survive. I had taken a break from painting while Farryn and I grieved. Our clients had understood and told both of us we could take as much time as we needed, but I knew they didn't really understand. They would soon be clamoring for more paintings to decorate the elaborate homes that they would be entertaining their vapid, spoiled guests in. To people who value money more than anything, sentiment weighs much less than a dollar. In fact, I doubt it weighed very heavily in their minds at all.
"Gabriel, you can't continue on like this." My father's uncharacteristically stern voice whipped me out of the stupor that four Sorrow Annihilators had put me in. He never called me by my given name.
"Like what?" I asked him, knowing full well what he was talking about.
"Like you're the only person who has ever lost someone!" he cried. "Like you're the only one who's ever hurt. Farryn, your mother and I need you, Go. We need you to come back to reality and start living again. You have a family and a job to think about."
"You're one to talk," I huffed. "You gave up your non-existent rock star career when I was a baby. Of course, you were a Bergdorf, so it wasn't like you needed the money or anything. Isn't that what you taught me, Dad? Isn't that why it's called a trust?"
His face contorted into a mixture of pain and anger, an expression I had never seen before. "You shut your mouth," my father warned me in a low, threatening voice.
"My own sister, married off to a Horowitz no less, never to work a day in her life and you're trying to teach me the value of a dollar. That's rich," I sneered.
He took deep, ragged breaths, desperately trying to control himself. "I don't care if you ever sell another painting again. But you have people who love you, who only want you to be happy, Go."
I laughed humorlessly. "Because that's all that is important, right? Happiness? Your daughter is a Trophy Wife. That's happiness for you, right there. But my daughter?" I looked him square in the eye. "My daughter died. And I'm the only one who gives a f--"
"I loved her too, Go," he interrupted.
"Olivia Grace was my first grandchild. And I loved her too," he whispered, tears in his eyes.
He left the room then and I sat down at the bar, determined to get twice as drunk as I had been before my father had barged in, uninvited. I should have chased after him, but he was my best friend and we always made up eventually.
* * * * * * *
The next morning, I woke up sober, the fight with my father still on my mind. I had slept a torturous seven hours and the only thing I wanted to do was hug my dad and tell him I was sorry. For once, I couldn't wait to tell him that he was right, that I needed to get back on my feet and be a better son and boyfriend, that I would always love Olivia but knew that she would want me to be happy.
When I got downstairs, my mother was coming out of the kitchen. "Where's Dad?"
She smiled tentatively, as though she had been the one I had been fighting with the night before. "He ran to the store to get some syrup. He should be back soon."
Just then, her phone rang, and my stomach hit the floor without even hearing the voice on the other end of the line.
"Yes, this is she," my mother answered in her pleasant phone voice. "What? Please tell me you're joking," my mother said softly, tears forming in her eyes. "Oh, I see. We'll be there as soon as we can. Yes, thank you. Goodbye."
"What happened?" I asked her. I knew the answer as surely as my own name but I wanted her to be the one to say it, to spell it out.
She closed her eyes, tears slipping out and spilling onto her perfectly made-up face.
"There's been an accident. Your father...your father didn't make it."
She then flung herself into my arms, which was her typical reaction when something upsets her. But instead of being annoyed like I usually was, I felt like I was suddenly five years old again.
I needed my mommy to hold me because my daddy was dead.