Dear Unborn You,
I know. It kinda sucks that you’ll never be born. I hope that you’ve gotten use to that idea.
I know that it’s bad and even hurtful to say but I’ve already embraced that idea, the idea of not being your mother. You didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did I. It just wasn’t meant to be. Well, that’s what everyone says so I guess that’s true.
But I can’t help loving you anyway, even though I’ll never see your face. I could spend time discussing the how and why of our situation, but does that matter? I love you and all the gray hairs and days of worry you had planned for me.
Even though you’ll never be born, I had names for you and your sister. Yes, there were going to be two of you. Beautiful little girls ready to set this world of ours on fire. Your father? I don’t know who that would have been. I haven’t found him yet and he hasn’t found me. I’m not sure if he will stick around when he finds out you two won’t be joining us. Who wants to throw away their chance at making a family?
Isadora Rosalina. That’s your name by the way. Your little sister is named Nena Carmen. You are both named after women made of steel, who knew better than I the meaning of grace. Mujeres cut from cloth that is no longer made. These names are not only your legacy but your birthright as their blood would have run through your veins.
Listen, mi niñita bonita I am not afraid of being alone. I’m not afraid of many things this in this world. But I am afraid of forgetting your name or forgetting to dream about you and wishing you well. I’m afraid that the world will tear you away from my soul and that, when hope escapes through the gaping hole in my chest, so will my dream of you.
I will admit, I still hold a sliver of hope that we’ll be together even though I know my body is defective and will never grow anything but regret. I think, during the darkest of nights, that some wonderful woman will give birth to you and hand you over to me. That we’ll look at each other, me with tears in my eyes because your mom is a llorona, and you with your new twinkling glow eyes and we’ll just know. We were made for each other and now we are whole.
But this you must know (a warning perhaps), I can barely take care of myself right now. So, taking care of you would be beyond difficult. I can’t keep milk from growing sour. I eat stale bread because es pecado to throw it away. My favorite thing to eat is cold pizza because I’m too lazy to pop it into the microwave. This is who your mother is, imperfect and flawed and lazy, but I still have so much hope.
Hope. That’s what I want to tell you, teach you. That’s gasoline for existing. You can’t really breathe without hope. You hope that the next time you inhale, air fills your little lungs. It doesn’t have to be there, you know, air. Sometimes, I skip a breath and it reminds me to pray, to believe, to hope in things that don’t exist in a physical form. Like you, my Isadora Rosalina Fernandez. You are air. You are belief. You are hope.
I guess that’s why I have named children that will never come. I have willed a family that isn’t mine. I have dreamt a world that makes you possible.
I have imagined the big moments in your life before I’ve imagined mine. Your first communion, the first day of school, or the first time your teacher calls me to complain about you. Oh, what a proud moment that would have been! You would have been taught to question everything, even the colors in your 64-piece Crayon box because how can you have only one flesh color but five ways to say purple? You will identify that as oppressive to the flesh color since it is not a monolith, and you will use that color to create your first picket sign. Mommy’s little chingona. That’s when your teacher will email me to tell me how inquisitive you are because that’s teacher speak for you talk too much in class. And darn it, Issa I would have been equal parts proud and terrified because what if you ask a question with an answer that you don’t understand, or overwhelms you, or worse makes you cry, makes you hate, destroys your faith in people or the world or God?
I’ve known you weren’t coming since 18, old enough to know that what I knew about the world was rubbish. At first I didn’t believe it. Back then, doctors handed out what-if scenarios more than prescriptions. I swallowed all the what-ifs and maybes and the perhaps they prescribed. After a while, the what-ifs became never-weres and soon, sooner than I’d want to admit, it dawned on me that you would never be here.
I cried myself dry until I became cement. I prayed because one time my abuela, your great grandmother, knew of someone in her pueblo that couldn’t have children and then all of a sudden had a swollen belly because she drank some yerbas and matas, and everything that is holistic and trendy now that hipsters have discovered how to package it. How many green things and teas does one have to drink to conceive a child? Answer: the world doesn’t make enough green things to make a miracle. That makes you precious, mi cielito. You are too precious to be born. You are too much of a miracle to exist. That is why you are not here with me.
In this letter, I want to tell you so many things. I want to say that you have a grandmother. She’s nuts. Literally crazy and judgmental and the best mom your mom could have had. She put me back together when I was broken. You have an uncle in Arizona, and aunt and uncle in Cuba, and then one here in Houston. Your Tía Leslie would have adored you, and spoiled you and your sister. Your Tía Leslie wanted to meet you, too. So, did your grandmother.
It took a while for everyone to adjust, understand, and accept that you weren’t coming. No one took it harder than your grandma. She wanted to hold you so badly that she dreamed of it for years. When it wasn’t to be, there was a part of her that stopped existing. She never talks about it, says its God’s will so she must accept it, but then grows quiet. There’s nothing to say after that.
Oh, my beautiful little girl. My beautiful, beautiful girl. You are my life. You are the life I will never know, the life I will always be curious about, the unanswered prayer I still whisper. You are love, and I love you madly. Know this to be the complete truth, that part of my heart is yours always. If we never meet, even in dreams, even in death, know that you are my very heart beat, the essence of what I know to be good and pure in this world.
You are true, even if you don’t exist.
I love you, Isadora. I love Nena. Take care of each other.
With all the love the world can hold,