“Roll, roll, roll a joint,
Gently take a hit.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a trip.”
Family folksong, sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat…”
I was not aware there was even such a thing as Infant Loss Awareness Month, and that October 15th is the day set aside to acknowledge those tiny people whose presence on earth was destined to be interrupted early on. Whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS or for any other reason that a child can be lost, we simply remember-and reflect on-that which might have been.
Rather than reflect on what might have occurred, I tend to gravitate to what would not have been, had either of the two pregnancies from my first marriage, come to full term. Twice Nancy and I suffered miscarriages somewhere in the first trimester, necessitating medical assistance and leaving us flattened.
Had either of the two tiny entities survived, I can most assuredly tell you that my life would have been altered in such dramatic fashion, as to defy comprehension. The issues that arose between us would have vanished with the presence of a child, and that would have meant that I would never have met Annie.
Annie and I would never have created our three sons, and none of this current existence I occupy, would have taken place. I almost certainly would not have taught, because I had already eschewed the opportunity to obtain a teaching credential by selecting Plan B of my Humanities Program, instead of Plan A, which would have garnered me a free and clear California Teaching Credential from SJSU.
Only circumstances which originated here on the mountain, brought about a change in my personal outlook, and guided me into the teaching profession. I posted thirty or so installments in January of 2015, here on my blog, chronicling the rise and fall of our little educational collective, the demise of which was the motivation to make the transition into the school district in town.
They say a mother will always be able to tell you how old her deceased child would have been at any given time, and whereas I cannot provide that information, at the time of the events in question, I was pretty devastated. In the poker game of life, the ante went up prodigiously.
There was one in 1976 and one in 1978, and I never met Annie until 1981. I would never have had cause to glance twice at her, when she came to pick her brother, Joey, up at United Auto Stores, when his hot Camaro was in the shop, had I still been with Nancy.
Whereas Nancy and I bought the twenty acres in 1975, we never once seriously talked about moving up to the land, once the parents had not only made the move, but built both the original barn, and then the Big House immediately afterwards.
It was not until after first brother Noel had built a little cabin, and then both Matt and Tom followed suit, that I got interested, but Nancy and I were already history by then. Each of the boys erected small structures which would serve as living quarters, as they gradually expanded their houses.
The first time I ever saw any of the three smaller versions of what homes could be, up here on our mountain, was in February of 1981, when Annie and I ventured off the beaten track and up to northern Mendocino County.
We stayed at Matt’s and for the first time I saw what the possibilities could be. Interestingly enough, though Nancy and I never got to the point of discussing a possible move, the subject came up the very first time I took Annie out on an official date, to dinner at Lou’s Village (Its doors closed for the final time in 2014), about six blocks from our little apartment.
When I described the twenty acres, and told her I had been making payments for six years, and was almost halfway through paying the land off, her eyes sparkled. She talked about San Jose and how much it was changing, and what it would be like to move to a place where there was no electricity, running water or even a structure, to raise kids.
We were definitely on the same page.
The page, however, was in a different book than the one in which two tiny entities began to form and then dissolved. It was not the same book which featured the original action, that one having closed when Nancy chose to walk the path of life with Brian, the father of her son, Patrick.
Her choice left me spending the next year of my life, living, working and going to San Jose State, full-time, until that day when Annie strolled through the front doors of the auto parts house, and flashed me a one-time-only look, that I have never forgotten.
When I pause now to consider not so much what might have been, but what actually is, all I can do is marvel at life and what a “strange trip” it can be.
And when I think of the two little unborn children I fathered so very long ago, I don’t.