Present Day, Winter 2019
Luna gets up, wipes a few crumbs from her lap. Eyes wide, as she looks up to check that Pilar wasn’t eyeing her for messing on the clean rug. Pilar was smiling still.
She walks over and wraps her fleshy arms around Luna, smothering her in an embrace.
“Tan buena verte… por favor…” she breaks contact, to squish Luna’s face in between her palms, “ven de visita pronto”
Luna nods, “Sí tía… muy pronto”
She peeks behind Luna’s shoulder at a slumped over Kamil. “And you can come too of course…”
Kamil’s cheeks flushes, his lips curve into a smile. “Tak…”
“And learn some Spanish… okay?”
He shrugs, shoving his hands in the pockets of his slacks. Pilar rolls her eyes. This has Luna in stitches.
Pilar walks them to the front door.
Pilar’s eyes widen as she now notices the holy water stoup. She dips her fingers quickly, “En el nombre del padre”, she reaches across and dots down on Luna’s forehead, “el hijo”, her chest, “y el espíritu santo”, across each shoulder.
Luna kisses her cheek, “Gracias por hoy tía… adiós”
She gives Kamil’s upper arm a stiff pat, “Adiós Kamil”
She waves them off until they are at the car.
“You know, I think I’m gonna take a walk further…”
“Hej? You sure? Pawel can take you anywhere you want…”
“I’m sure” she gives him a hug before he could dispute any further.
“Okay… do I see you again? Or only tee-a?”
Luna smiles, “No, you’ll see me again tata”
He beams as she calls him dad in Polish. He’d have been on cloud 9 if she’d called him dad in English, even Spanish… but she made a point of learning the word for dad in Polish. That touched his heart.
“I am hap’py we see each o’der… koincydencja… meant to be…”
“Yeah, it was meant to be. And I’m happy too”
He gets into the backseat of the car; Luna walks on.
Luna walks for a while, just taking in the rarity of sunshine on a winter’s afternoon in Massachusetts. She sticks her hands in the pocket of her baby-blue coat, after pulling her beanie further down over her ears.
She looks up at the snow-dipped trees, closing her eyes every so often as a ray of sunshine hits her face.
She hails a cab eventually.
“Heya… where to?”
“Back Bay… Marlborough Street…”
“Gotchya… hop in”
Luna gets in the backseat. As the driver takes off, she closes her eyes. Unsure if it was the fresh air, the nostalgia of catching up with her tía Pilar, calling her father dad for the first time… but she gets hit with a wave of memories. Memories of her and Cooper. And her traitorous mind settles on one memory, which she’d wished she didn’t relive in this cab right here and right now.
Luna and Cooper were driving in the car, on their way to their first ultrasound. She was 8 weeks pregnant. They were overjoyed and butterflies-in-the-tummy excited to have their first snapshot of their baby.
She nervously fiddles around with her fingers, as she sits in the passenger seat.
He looks across and smiles. He reaches for her hand, brings it up to his mouth. He presses a kiss to the back of her hand.
“Everything is gonna be fine Lu… our baby is gonna be perfect, just like its mama… and hopefully have my dashing charm”
She giggles, “Dashing charm?”
He quirks an eyebrow, “I am very charming, I’ll have you know”
“Our baby can have your pretty face… but the brains… erm…”
“That’s nonsense…” he says between laughter, “… take it back…”
He presses another kiss to her hand.
“Babe, as long as he or she is healthy… and looks mostly like you, kid can be dumb as rocks”
“Coop…” Luna swats across his chest with the hand he’d been kissing.
“What? A cute kid can get away with being stupid”
“Oh my God, I can’t with you sometimes…” she giggles.
Back in the backseat of the cab, tears had begun to trickle down Luna’s cheek. She softly sobs trying to not alert the cabbie. She puts her hand up to her face, attempting to cover the blubbering mess she’d become. She lowers down the seat, her butt nearly off the seat. Awkwardly maneuvering her legs so her knees don’t press into the back of the poor cabdriver, as she was now pressing against the back of his seat.
She closes her eyes, and just as vividly, she was back in the memory of the 8-week Ultrasound.
Luna was already laying on the bed, the scanner equipment all set and ready, waiting for the doctor. Cooper paces around the room.
“Coop, you’re pacing already? It’s not like I’m about to give birth cariño…”
“I know…” he keeps pacing, “… I’m just keen on getting the show on the road. Hearing her little heartbeat? How neat?!”
“Coop, we talked about this. We don’t know it’s a girl… and we may not want to know until the birth…”
“Yeah, but she’s a girl. My little girl.” He flashes a cheeky grin.
He walks over to the bed, takes her hands in his. Presses a kiss to her forehead.
“Whatever sex the baby is… would be lucky to have you as a papi” she pushes up on her elbows, gives him a kiss before lowering back down, “… now stop pacing… como un loco”
Dr. Aiono walks into the room.
“Hello beautiful couple. How are we today?”
“Cooper is giving me acid reflux”
He raises his eyebrows animated at the suggestion.
Dr. Aiono giggles, “That might just be the pregnancy. But we can give you something for that… and maybe something to settle your nerves Cooper?” she teases.
“I’m just excited” he holds up his hands, palms out, shoulders shrugged.
Dr. Aiono lifts Luna’s t-shirt, readying the gel “This will be a little cool on your belly Luna”
The gel was cool as the forewarning suggested. Luna squeezes her eyes shut, but in an instant re-opens them. Not wanting to miss a thing.
The doctor grabs the ultrasound transducer before moving it across Luna’s belly.
Cooper is now standing behind Luna, leaning as far forward as the spacing of the bed would allow. Luna peeks up at him to see the childlike wonder on his face. She smiles, grabbing his hand in hers. He looks down at her smiling, before pressing another kiss to the top of her head.
The sound waves reflect on the monitor.
Dr. Aiono smiles, “Your little one has started to develop facial features… fingers… toes…”
“Can we tell what the sex is?”
Luna frowns, “Don’t answer that Dr. Aiono. He’s trying to go back on our agreement”
She chuckles, “Well whenever you are ready to hear, the sex may be determined by ultrasound as early as 14 weeks… so not quite yet Cooper.”
The sound of a tiny heartbeat sounds through the room, captivating their attention immediately.
“Is that her heartbeat?” Cooper asks, his eyes widened.
“Coop…” Luna tries to argue but is mesmerized by the sound. “It’s so fast...”
“The heartrate is double the rate of yours, at about 150-170 bpm normally… your little one is currently going at 160bpm”
“Whoa! And that won’t hurt her?” Cooper holds his hand up to his mouth
“Not at all…” Dr. Aiono points to the screen, the flashing little spec throbbing in rhythm to the sound of the beat, “… that’s the little heart doing all that work”
“Oh, mi amor… tan preciosa…”
“Ha! Preciosa… You admit, she’s a girl”
Luna shakes her head, before succumbing to his beautiful smile.
“She’s our girl Lu…” he snuggles in closer, sitting on the bed now. His arm around Luna’s shoulder. “That’s our girl… yours and mine babe”
A tear trickles down Luna’s cheek.
And as cruel as the invasion of this beautiful, treasured memory at this time – the heart wrenching equivalent wouldn’t be far behind.
Luna’s mind flashed back to the evening when they lost Monroe Elora. The cold, cruel memory of hearing no heartbeat and have that vacant soundless moment ripple through her now.
The waiting for a heartbeat that would never come as her daughter was born… still born.
She couldn’t place the smells or the physical pain, as even then she’d seemed to block them well out. But she could never forget the numbing pain and the emptiness she felt. She couldn’t forget the deafening silence in the theatre where no newborn cries were heard. She couldn’t forget the look in Cooper’s eyes holding their daughter’s lifeless body in his arms.
She’d pay to forget, as she’d pay to remember hearing their daughter’s heartbeat for the very first time.
Back in the cab. Luna lowers her hand from her face to her lap, letting the tears dry and stain her cheeks. She slowly straightens and pushes herself back up in the seat. Resting her head, leaning against the interior frame of the cab window. Her eyes staring blankly out the window.
Just as suddenly as the flood of emotions came, they were gone. And she was emptied out again.
She could feel the pit in her stomach, the chasm in her chest severing her future from the past. It’s as though she was standing teetering on the edge of a cliff, pebbles of stone crumbling beneath her feet. Warning her, she’d go over soon enough if she moves just an inch. Then there’d be a light in her peripheral causing her to step back before she steps out again. A constant tug-o-war of heart and mind; past and present and future; life and death; love and loss; on or over the edge.
Her fingers hover over her chest, her palm resting there now. One last teardrop blinks from her eyelash and trickles down her cheek. Would she ever feel complete again?