6:45am—We (my mom and I) get up to learn the morning routine because today, at noon, my sister is delivering her sixth baby via C-section.
6:50—Preparing the lunches
Ariel: takes hot lunch at school so she gets snacks (Fritos, raisins, fruit-by-the-foot) and Kiwi Strawberry Snapple in a handy silver carrying case.
Danny: a brownie, two pieces of bread, a bag of chips, and water
Dalia: lasagna heated up in a Tupperware container (don’t forget the plastic fork), chips, go-gurt (yogurt you suck out of a thin rectangular bag), and Kiwi Strawberry Snapple in a handy red carrying case.
Adam: a piece of pizza heated up and packed in a folded paper plate, chips,
fruit roll up, tube of mini M&Ms, and Blue PowerAde.
Gabe: takes hot lunch at school so he gets snacks (Shark Bites—faux chewy fruit candy in the shape of shark heads, Fritos, brownie) and milk at school.
“Zzzzz” is for passed out. The mind numbing sleep of what-just-happened and I-don’t-know-what.
“Y” is for why which you should never ask de facto. As far as the outside world is concerned it’s just another day.
“X” is for xylophone, xerox, and x-ray. No one works “X” in smoothly, except maybe Dr. Seuss; why should I?
“W” is for waiting out in the lobby. Hope in the air, new life in a belly served up on the slab.
“V” is for varicose and vein. “V” is for vasectomy too, isn’t it?
“U” is for the uterus that harbors the varicosity that hides under layers of fat were “some” pregnant women to have any. Watch it with yer scalpel, will ya’ mister?
“T” is for torah and for tubes and for tying. Square knot, half hitch, sheepshank, bow.
7:10a—Everyone is up except for Gabe, who is four, and Dalia who takes the longest to get ready but is allowed to sleep the latest.
Ariel: A fried tell-grandma-you-like-it-over-easy egg, toasted challah buttered right to the edge, and a glass of chocolate milk
Dalia: One half of a mini bagel with cream cheese in a bowl—not on a napkin—to take with in her the car because she’ll be running late.
Adam: Blue PowerAde
“S” is for sex and seed and spill and sperm. God’s will aside, it was these last two, I think, that caused this baby to be born.
“R” is for the rabbi who teaches in the temple that Peter’s money built.
“Q” is for valium-induced quiet.
“P” is for Peter, my sister’s husband: orthodox jew, sport’s agent, seed planter (in that order).
“O” is for orthodoxy not ortho-novum.
“N” is for newborn and my envy—of clean-slate status and starting over.
My mom drives Ariel, Danny, Dalia, and Adam to Anshe Emmet while I stay home with Gabe who is still sleeping.
8:15—Mom returns from taking the four older kids to school. She pulls Dalia’s uneaten mini bagel with cream-cheese glue off the back car seat.
8:25—I wake Gabe and dress him in the bedroom.
8:30—I dress Gabe in the living room.
8:35—I dress Gabe in the kitchen.
Gabe: A bowl of dad’s favorite cereal (Frosted Flakes)
9:00—My mom drives Gabe to Temple Sholom.
“M” is for Mariah, the newborn, named for Marvin her grandfather, not Carrey the singer.
“L” is for Laurie, that’s me. I’m the sister telling this story.
“K” is for kaddish.
12:05p Release forms: 1. repeat C-section 2. sterilization—all signed. Julie is wheeled into the operating room. Mothers Lila (in-law) and Adele (biological) follow in scrubs. “I don’t mean to sound rude,” Julie says, “but please don’t touch me in there. I can’t stand it.”
12:10 Peter and I wait in the lobby. “Be by the elevators at 12:45p,” the surgeon tells us, “so you can see the baby as it’s wheeled into the nursery.” Peter and I wait. We share a kosher filet-o-bland chicken in a pita and talk: “The last two came out not breathing and were taken away to ICU. I needed to be strong for Julie and I was, but I could never go through that again.”
“J” is for Julie, my sister, named after my great-grandfather Samuel Julius.
“I” is for I.U.D. Intra-Uterine Device; 2% ineffective.
“H” is for heart stopping.
12:40p Behind Peter’s head I see Esther waving down the hall. She’s standing next to the elevators. Her mouth opens but no words come out.
“G” is for “ohmyfuckingGod.”
“F” is for faith and where you can put it.
“E” is for elegy because that’s what this is.
1:45pm—I go to pick up Gabe from Temple Sholom.
“D” is for dead. As in my pregnant sister. I told you that one letter ago but you didn’t believe me.
3:45—I go to pick up Ariel, Danny, Dalia, and Adam from Anshe Emmet.
“C” is for cesarean, five of them and one natural birth. Seven pregnancies including the "secret" abortion. “C” is for cutting and closing, each time a smiley-face mouth sliced low on the belly and stapled shut. Self-sealing with a scar.
“B” is for baby and beginnings, both beautiful and bright.
“A” is for absent: a daughter, a wife, a sister, a mother. An abyss that grew from words unsaid. A start and a finish laid end-to-end. Amen.