We met at the pavilion; an obtusely tall, angular building resembling something more at home in the mountainous panorama of my native Wyoming then here in brown Kansas. It’s December, though not happy December, plangent with snow or Christmas cheer. It was appointment day. As we met, there was talk of me taking the kids and returning home, leaving her to navigate Camry colored silver when the end had come. “I’ll wait”
Looking back at two faces buckled in…I pause and think, they always look like tiny astronauts ready for lift off, buckled tight surrounded by foam and resin. The girl, cheery eyed and lucid, the boy sleeping, all be it in fits and starts. “I’ll wait” She climbs from Mazda midnight blue and I take her place, the door shuts and the cabin is quiet. She returns a glance over the shoulder as she crosses the lot, and I press my lips together and give her a hopeful and concerning half grin and wave.
Sliding the gear shift into reverse, then drive, we go. First round the parking lot and medical complex, “Gracie that’s where you and brother were born, right inside that building….” Girl still awake replies, “Where’s mommy?”
“She’s inside” I reply, “We’ll see her again real soon.” We drive, first through adjacent business lots, then across bridges and to other access roads, circling, always returning to that pavilion, that ugly pavilion. I hate that pavilion.
We find a park, built around a man made lake, there are geese, dirty frozen puddles and a few beaten down vehicles parked, conducting business I need not know nor want to know about. “Do you see the geese?!” I exclaim. “Yes Daddy! They’re silly!”
We drive, around and around, we drive. Finally my travel companion follows her fair haired brother into slumber, succumbing to the warmth of her jumpseat and the rhythm of the road…I return.
The pavilion, that disgusting pavilion gleams mockingly out of place…she returns, biting lip, pink faced, fears realized.
“The baby is gone, it’s just gone, dead! No heartbeat, only measuring 6 weeks again….please take me home!” We embrace, as best you can in the front seat of a Mazda, her tears hot on my cheek, her pain, palpable, her body carrying the hope of life and the grim reality of death.