Daydreaming by Martha Wewer

This afternoon I sat at Fosters having a bowl of soup and daydreaming.  I love Fosters.  It’s bright and airy and reminds me of a coffee place I used to go to when I was in college.  It smells of espresso, and pastries, and pizzas being made in the oven.  There are large open tables with mismatched chairs, and college students studying history, or math, or something.  Probably chemistry. I hated chemistry.  These students have their futures in front of them. Bright, shiny futures. Futures full of promise, hope, and good times, and hopefully nothing bad will ever happen to these people.

They are sitting at these tables with the mismatched chairs, wallowing in clean, pure, happy youth. I sat at tables with mismatched chairs many years ago. Years and years ago it feels like. So long ago that I feel like that wasn’t even me. I’m not the same person I was back then, when I dreamed of working as an environmental attorney, struggled with my math homework, dated someone who didn’t appreciate me for me, and made bad choices. Choices that, looking back, ended up having benign consequences.

I dreamed of getting married to a wonderful man and having babies. I dreamed of living in a house. Of not struggling to pay my bills. Some of my dreams came to be – the amazing husband, the cute house that’s all mine.  Some of what I hoped for, did not, at least not in the way I thought it would. I look in the mirror and I’m not that girl in a coffee house inSan Diegowondering what I’m going to wear to our next formal because I can’t really afford a new dress.  I’ve gained weight. Gone is my cute little size 6 self that ran the beach in a bikini without thought.  I have gray hairs that refuse to stay hidden beneath an expensive dye-job.  I have pain in my eyes. That is where I am the most different, I think. I may not have the wrinkles that one would expect, but there is a hollowness, an emptiness that looks back at me from the other side of the mirror.  All of my pain, and grief, and anger, and loss has manifested in my eyes. I smile at people, but  that smile no longer reaches my eyes the way it once had.

I look around the room of young, bright faces, and see another woman sitting alone. She’s clearly older than I am – she’s lost her battle with gray hair and surrendered to a lovely silver running through her brown curls.  She’s reading – or maybe, like me, pretending to read.  I catch her eye and smile. She smiles back but her smile doesn’t reach her eyes either.

I wonder, What happened to you?  Why do you have pain?  Did your babies die too?

It always comes back to them – to my boys, and the fact that they died. No amount of daydreaming in a coffee house can change that.


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