Step One: Want it. For years, I imagined Emily following me around with a blanket in her arms like Linus from the Charlie Brown cartoons. Her hair would fall into black ringlets that dripped to her shoulders like water. She would never grow over two feet tall in my mind. She would never get older, never go to Kindergarten, never drive a car, and never kiss a boy. She was a baby, my baby, and I wanted her more than anything.
Step Two: Marry an asshole. Emily’s existence was something more than my wanting a baby, it was my need to conjure up a friend, a companion, something to take care of. I was sad and lonely and fat and scared. I was a mess. Emily was supposed to save me from all of that.
Step Three: Have delusions. I had imagined making babies with ease, as if they were simply fruit- ripening on the trees around us- and all I had to do was pluck. I never imagined that skill was involved, that heartbreak was required, and that the one simple accomplishment that came so easily to my mother at seventeen, would be so nearly impossible to me only twenty-some years later. Suddenly there are Basal body temperatures, medication, plotting and charting. It was fucking-tempered with science and biology.
Step Four: Pray. I have never prayed so hard for anything or anyone. Dying grandparents, ailing friends, starving children in Ethiopia, abandoned pets on the Sarah McLachlan commercial, they all received half-hearted “not sure if I believe” prayers. But Emily, this baby that has yet to exist, this person I have yet to create, she receives all of me, every stitch of something deep and real inside of me. She has the prayer of a thousand suns beaming from my belly.
Step Five: Divorce the asshole. The day you left, Emily left with you. The ghost of a child I would never meet. I don’t know who I missed more. I cried for you, but I ached for her.