I first participated in the March SoL Challenge in 2015. Every year, I’d try to get back to it. Until this year, I never did.
It is a little painful to look at those Slices from 2015, knowing how oblivious I was to the hardship ahead. I had written about my father and how he was becoming eccentric and curmudgeonly. I later understood that in 2015, we were seeing the onset of dementia. For a long time, I didn’t want to write about my dad because I wanted to respect his privacy.
My father is still alive, and, for the most part, he knows who everyone is. If he did find out I was writing about him, he might be angry. He might not care at all. If he did care, he’d probably forget about it in a few hours. Furthermore, he hasn’t turned on his computer in over a year, so it is unlikely that he will even find out. I feel a little guilty writing about him, but I also need to put words to what’s happening.
It’s hard mourning someone who is still alive. It’s hard missing someone who is sitting across from you at the dinner table. He is Schrodinger’s father—he both is and isn’t my dad at the same time.
Since my last March challenge in 2015, I’ve also had to come to grips with the fact that I am never going to be a mother. In 2016, my only known pregnancy ended in miscarriage at sixteen weeks. I still think about her—the baby—every day.
We waited too long to seek treatment, and the doctor told us there wasn’t much that could be done. We spent thousands on fertility drugs anyway.
When we gave up on that, we met with adoption agencies. We learned that due to our age, it was highly unlikely that we’d be able to adopt a child under ten years old. Maybe that, or becoming foster parents, is something we will consider later, but now, we’re not ready. We’re still too sad about not hearing little feet too bring home larger feet.
In spring of 2019, I resigned from a high school position I liked to move to a new city for my husband’s career. He did not pressure me to do this at all; I thought it might be good to change things up. I completely underestimated how difficult it would be for me to find a job I liked as much in this new place.
In June of 2019, I accepted a job at a private school. It turned out to be a poor fit in important ways. In February 2020, when I received my contract for the 2020-2021 school year, I wasn’t sure I should sign it. I did, thinking I should put in one more year.
It turned out to be a moot point. In June of 2020, my position was eliminated. I scrambled to find something else, and ended up in a part-time position at a technical college. I like it, but I miss the sense of purpose and the relationships I had at work before we moved. Like every other public school teacher, I was often frustrated, but I also, especially in my fifth and final year, felt good about the work I was doing.
I think I found solace in my role at that school, more than I realized. Being away from the school has somehow made all the other losses harder to live with.
I know I have much to be grateful for. That awareness doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to be sad sometimes. I also know that it won’t always be this hard. I will adapt. I will find solace in other things, volunteer work, maybe, a new job, or a project of some kind.
I may always carry some sadness, especially around the child I lost. The sadness may never get any lighter. But I will get stronger, and the load will be easier to bear.