Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Thunder Only Happens When Its Raining

During my last visit with my grandmother, a photo of myself with my four cousins caught my eye. We were seated in descending order of age on the diving board of my aunt's swimming pool. The picture was almost 15 years old at that time, and I think, it was the last time all five of us were together. "I tell everyone that I'm proud of my grandchildren." my grandmother announced as she saw me looking at the photo. For the record, that is not the same things as telling your grandchildren that you are proud of them. I looked at each of us and thought about the underlying labels that wouldn't make my grandmother so proud. Abortionist. Adulteress, Mummy's Boy, Heroin Addict, and Closeted Homosexual. Although, as much as I tried to conceal that aspect of my profession, my grandparents never expressed any interest in my work. Fortunately, I never felt that I needed to hear that they were proud of me.

The story of my two youngest cousins is rather disappointing. There was so much potential that was squandered and so much promise that remains unfulfilled. As a child and even into this adolescence, Ben was easy going, very sociable and strikingly confident. He was an honor student, a soccer player and had a good group of friends. His younger brother, Sam was much more quiet and introverted. He had an interest in comic books and at the age of 11 started his own comic series. I came across a sequence that he left at my grandparents' house. He displayed impeccable precession and attention to detail. It featured a scene inside a store and he took note to reverse the lettering in the store window. The dialogue revealed a masterful sophistication way beyond his years.

Sadly, my aunt and uncle failed to nourish their children's talents. They never took a family trip to Comic-Con, which would have had a lasting impression on Sam. They never encouraged him to explore art schools or other creative programs. When Ben was a senior in high school, my uncle informed him that Penn State was his only option for college. As they lived in a small town, Ben probably would have been more suited at a smaller school. Alas, he never made the transition from a big fish in a small pond, to a small fish in a huge lake. He was overwhelmed at Penn State and immediately became lost. Depression set in, which led to experimentation with drugs. By the time he dropped out and tried to enroll in a local community college closer to home, he had moved on to shooting up heroin.

Over the past ten years, he has been in and out of rehab. He spent some time in jail for stealing a car, and especially in a depressed economy, no one wants to hire a convicted felon. My aunt had to take a second part time job to subsidise his apartment.  Meanwhile, Sam opted not to go to University at all, and started working for Verizon. He left his parents house and moved in with a male roommate, but refused to give my aunt and uncle his new address. When he was 27, my aunt was still explaining "Oh, he's just too busy to have a girlfriend" to which my mother replied, "Yes, he's too busy being gay." I can really appreciate that he probably will never come out to his redneck asshole father, but my father observed that he seems to be at a place where he feels comfortable with himself, so I'm especially proud of him for achieving that.

After discussing the details of my grandmother's imminent death, my mother decided to move on to some gossip. "Guess what? Ben is going to be a father." she announced. "On purpose?" I blurted out as I didn't know how else to respond, except in my mind I was thinking that knocking some girl up and being a father are not mutually exclusive. She filled in the remaining details. He's 32 and has been clean since December of last year. She's 22 and has been clean for two an a half years (pausing to reflect on what a tough life one has lived if two years sobriety is on your resume at the age of 22). Her family seems very supportive. My aunt hasn't met her yet, but received an invitation to the baby shower. "Out of all the grandchildren, who would have thought that Ben would be the first to have a child?" she commented. "I can't believe that my baby sister is going to be a grandmother." ...just.twist.the.knife.a.little.bit.more...

Embarrassingly, my initial thoughts about heroin use go to a clip from MTV's The State (high five to anyone who recalls that short lived variety series) where Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious were portrayed as contestants on the $20,000 Pyramid. "Oh, this one is easy!" exclaims Nancy, after she reads the clue. "Eating, drinking, sleeping, know..everything..." "Things people do on heroin!" shouts Sid. Ding, ding, ding!  Now I see my cousin a bit more as Tommy from Trainspotting (which is one of those movies that I have seen many times, but never watched from the beginning to the end). I just hope their baby doesn't suffer the same fate.

I thought back to when I learned my other cousin was pregnant during my 2WW in my first Clomid cycle (which I was so certain had worked). I was jealous and resentful. I felt as if she were stealing my thunder. Alas, thunder only happens when it's raining. It was never mine to steal. I've been reminded of this while attending the one and two year old birthday parties for her son, which coincidentally falls just after my first and second undue date anniversaries. This time I don't feel any jealousy. I don't feel much of anything at all. It doesn't matter that this is the first great-grandchild, as my grandmother was far too demented to even notice. I'm not bitter about not being the first to procreate, as that's not an issue for me. I just hate that my mother is feeling jealousy right now.

It's a simple scientific observation. They are fertile. We are not. Yet, as I draw up my progesterone in oil, I can't help to think of them using the same type of syringes to inject heroin into their veins. "They don't deserve a baby!" exclaimed Co-worker, after I informed her. No they probably don't, just as we don't deserve to be infertile; but most importantly, that baby doesn't deserve to be born into this world with such unstable parents. I acknowledge that I'm being harshly judgmental toward them, and I want to believe that the presence of his progeny will finally break my cousin's ten year cycle of addiction. Unfortunately, I've seen this movie all too many times before and I know then ending. Thunder only happens when it's raining.

In the stillness of remembering what you had,
and what you lost...

and what you had...
and what you lost...    


  1. 1. I love Fleetwood Mac! I have tickets for their show in November. You should see if there are any Bay Area shows.
    2. They probably have the benefit of a smaller gauge needle than the one we use for PIO.
    3. Tommy. Cat. Toxoplasmosis.
    4. I hope you're tolerating the wait well.

  2. I love this post. And I'm feeling a rainbow is around the corner. XO

  3. I hope that your cousin is able to break his addiction cycle. That is such a hard life to live and I agree, that baby doesn't deserve the life of unstable parents. I've seen way too many scenarios like that, myself being included with parents as drug addicts. I'm sorry your mom has to go through those jealousy feelings, but maybe you'll have your own big announcement soon. I'm hopefull.

  4. That's such a sad story! You're right, many of us don't deserve the hand we've been dealt. I had such a hard time with both of my sister in laws unplanned pregnancies.

    I agree with case study, your rainbow baby is coming.

  5. Ugh my mom used to occasionally bring up that "in a few years," she'd be ready to go "part-time at work to be a part-time grandma." While I appreciate the offer to babysit, I always felt bad, because I couldn't guarantee that "in a few years" she'd have any grandkids. But I'm so hopeful for you to steal the thunder from your cousin soon.

  6. To me there was almost nothing worse than being in the deepest throes of infertility and seeing some undeserving screwed-up twat walk by with a huge belly. While I truly hope your cousin and his gf have their lives straightened out, I'm sorry that you have this in your face right now.

  7. I guess I'm not the only one with a cousin who cannot raise a child, but will be soon! How can we compete with 22 year old eggs, even post-heroin?? Hoping for good news soon. Fingers-crossed! I hope you're handling the TWW alright. Thinking of you. Honestly, you sound like you're in a good place.