I named her Faith knowing that’s what I needed. Faith.
Giggling in my delirium as my doctor had coaxed me to push, I’d realized I was about to have Faith. Most people wouldn’t have found that funny, I know. The lady the hospital provided to coach me certainly hadn’t. She was perplexed by my laughter. I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy.
Still, the words of that old George Michael song my Aunt Betsy used to sing had taken over my head. It was her favorite back when she lived with us. I wish I could have remembered more. More of the song that is. I remembered plenty about Aunt Betsy when she stayed after her divorce. I used to pretend I was her, living her carefree life, always surrounded by friends, yet never too busy to stop and have a pretend pot of tea or a Barbie style show. That was the only time in my life I didn’t feel alone.
“You’ll spoil her, Bee,” my mother would tell her. Betsy would roll her eyes and stick out her tongue or, worse, make an obscene gesture with her hand. That one especially used to make my mother huff away commenting on how ungrateful her younger sister was.
But I loved my Bee. I was proud of her success after she got on her feet and left my parents’ house. She was her own woman, not needing anyone or anything. That’s what she said. Mother used to say she would have been nowhere had they not taken her in. I rolled my eyes. Mother always took credit for the success of others … and distanced herself from their failures. Wasn’t that evident by the fact that my parents were on their third trip since the beginning of this whole shameful mess?
Like mother – like daughter. I shrugged. It’s not like they would have been much support anyway, though under the circumstances, you’d have thought they’d be more understanding. Not them.
Oh, dear God. More tears! I began to hum that song again. I could only remember a little. Oh you gotta have faith, faith, faith. You just gotta have faith…
Throughout the night that song had played in my head and with the pain and the darkness came the laughter. Crazy laughter. You’re going to fail. I’d used the song to try to drown out those words. But they were right. Hadn’t I failed already? Isn’t that what it meant when you found yourself pregnant at 17 and by a one night stand with your friend’s dad?
You just gotta have faith… Alone, I buried my head in the pillow and sobbed. Why would I expect anyone to be there for me now?
Because of Faith.
I touched my belly, empty now, and realized there had been another time I hadn’t felt alone. I remembered the feel of that tiny life growing inside of me, knowing I was responsible for everything that happened to her. It was all up to me to give her a chance.
A chance. I wanted more for her now than I could ever give. One word loomed in my head. A word others had tossed at me from the beginning. A word I’d refused to catch, until now.
Could I do it? Give away the life that was part me?
“Shut up!” I screamed, covering my ears. I didn’t want to think, didn’t want to hear. I didn’t want to have to make choices. I just wanted… I just wanted the chance to love her and have her love me.
* * * * *
I dreamed Betsy’s voice whispering in my ear, though her hand on my back felt so real. The mattress compressed as someone sat behind me. The pressure continued against my back.
“I tried to make it sooner, Babe. Damned airlines. They just don’t understand.”
Betsy! I flew into her arms, no longer caring about the pain that had sliced through my lower half when I’d rolled over too quickly.
“Oh, Babe. You’re okay … and so is she.” She pushed me back so she could see my face. “She’s beautiful, you know. Just like you.”
“They won’t let me see her until I decide…” Fresh tears. How could there be so many tears? “Oh, Bee. I have to give her away to give her a chance.” I collapsed against her.
Again she pushed me back. “Now what kind of crazy talk is that?” Oh, she sounded just like carefree Bee! Only her eyes were filled with more concern than I’d ever seen. “You and your little girl are coming to live with me. If you want to.” I guess I looked as confused as I felt because she laughed. “Oh good grief. That mother of yours! I swear. We talked about this three months ago, at least. I can’t believe she didn’t tell you.”
She hadn’t. Instead I’d fretted and read the pamphlets she’d given me about adoption, listening as she reminded me that I should consider what was right for me and the baby. I heard again how she and my father had sacrificed to assure their child’s future and how she hoped I would not simply throw it all away because of one shameful mistake -- like she had.
Her mistake had been me.
I tried to understand. How could the product of loving be considered shameful, a mistake? Even knowing the circumstances of Faith’s conception were … disgraceful, I’d loved her and wanted her. She made me feel complete now.
“Why did you wait so long?” I asked Bee, hopeful, still afraid to believe.
“I had to make sure we had everything we’d need for afternoon tea parties and Barbie style shows.” She remembered. Smiling, she pushed my tangled hair away from my face. “I always wanted a little girl just like you, Babe. And now we have your Faith.”
Could it be that easy? I wanted it to be. I had to have faith … because my Faith was no shameful mistake.