I’m sorry I’m so late in posting Part 6 of Lessons Learned! I’ll give you a little synopsis of what’s happened so far, but feel free to start at the beginning and read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for the complete story especially if you’re new to my blog. 🙂
Regina loved Bobby back in high school, they had a huge fight and split up before they knew she was pregnant. When she lost the baby, she tried to get in touch with him but he never got a message to come to the hospital. They haven’t spoke since, until they meet up in the airport on Maui, where they’re unknowingly standing up at the same wedding. He’s always called her Gina and she always called him Bobby, but their friends (Jaime and Mike from my short story Eyes Wide Open) know them as Reggie and Rob.
Bobby and I spend the rest of the evening trying to understand what had happened back in Virginia after high school. When we finally looked around and realized how dark it had gotten, he asked if I would come up to his room, just to talk. Since we were in the same building and on the same floor, I figured it would be okay. And I didn’t think we were going to get much sleep anyway, at least until we’d heard each other out.
Neither of us remembered exactly what we had argued about when we broke up, just that we were young and going away to different colleges. I think it seemed easier to have a big blow out fight and go our separate ways than try to have a long-distance relationship and maybe find out that our love wasn’t strong enough to keep us together.
Then I had the miscarriage almost before I knew I was pregnant and when Bobby didn’t come to the hospital, I had been sure it meant we never had a chance. And now I’m reeling with the news that he never even knew about the baby.
“But I called your house. I talked to your dad,” I say. “I told him it was really important. How could he not tell you?”
“I don’t know, honey, I’m really not sure what happened. He was still traveling for work a lot then and I’d left for college already, with practice every day of the week pretty much. If he called and left me a message, I didn’t get it. I know mom and dad wanted me to focus on school, too. I know they liked you, but I knew they were kinda glad we broke up then. I think they just thought we were too young to get serious.”
“We were too young,” I say ruefully. “But it didn’t seem like it back then, at least not to me.” “Me, either,” he smiles into my eyes and the years just fall away. Then he’s shaking his head thoughtfully. “God, you don’t think they didn’t tell me on purpose?” We just stare at each other and it occurs to me that maybe his mom and dad didn’t love me as much as we thought they did.
“Maybe they really didn’t like me?” I whisper, “Enough to keep you from finding out you lost a child?” I can see the pain on his face and I hope that I’m wrong. But how else could things have gotten so muddled all those years ago?
His jaw tightens as he looks at me again. I can tell he’s wondering the same thing and it looks like it’s tearing him up inside. I mean, his family had always been super close. His mom and dad and Rhia and him, then me. They had taken me in so many times as a kid. They’d shared meals with me and let me stay at their house all those nights. I thought they were my family, too. I had pretended they were…
But I guess helping me was different than thinking of me as maybe their son’s wife or the mother of their grandchild. My mom’s influence again, I thought bitterly. Nobody really wanted the town drunk’s kid as part of their family. Sure, they felt sorry for me and helped me out, fed me, gave me a place to stay sometimes. People could always feel good about a local charity project. But anything permanent? No, thanks —
I didn’t realize I’d spoken out loud till I saw the shock on Bobby’s face. “You really think that’s how my family was?” His voice is flat. “Well, now I’m not certain,” I say and I’m working to keep my voice from shaking. “It sure seems like that’s the only explanation, doesn’t it?”
“Did they even know you were pregnant?” His voice is rough with emotion and he clears his throat. “Sorry. I mean, what exactly did you tell my dad when you called?”
“I don’t remember anymore. It was years ago!” Now I’m the one getting emotional and I stop and take a breath. “Okay, wait. I started feeling awful and when I told my mom that I was spotting and having such bad cramps, she insisted that I go to Portsmouth. So we went. My mom was driving, so I called your house and your dad answered and I told him I needed you to come to the hospital. That something was wrong.” I know I didn’t say anything specific, I would have been too embarrassed to tell his dad what was going on. I’d been scared and in pain and hormonal and had just wanted Bobby. And he wasn’t there…
He reaches for my hands and holds them in his, rubbing his thumbs across my fingers. “God, Gina, I never stopped thinking about you. When I came home that first Christmas and you weren’t there, I didn’t know what to do. Your mom said she didn’t even know how to call you, that you had a different cellphone number that you wouldn’t give her.”
“But that’s not true!” I hadn’t changed numbers until years later when I moved away from home permanently. “Why would she tell you that? I had that number for years, but I didn’t want to be at home if I didn’t have to, because of my stupid ass of a stepfather. I spent a lot of holidays with Jamie’s family. She was my college roommate and I knew Mike way before they even started dating.”
“Well, what the hell?” Bobby is looking completely perplexed. “I’m guessing your mom wasn’t too crazy about me, then, huh? She just lied to my face.”
“Well, I can understand that a little bit. I mean, she took me to hospital. She saw what I was going through. She saw how scared I was. She knew I lost a baby, our baby, and you didn’t even call me back, let alone come to the hospital!” I can’t believe tears are running down my face and I swipe at them angrily.
Bobby is looking resigned. “Look, maybe we better get some sleep and talk some more tomorrow,” he says. “We’re just going round and round and not solving anything. You know I didn’t come to the hospital cause I didn’t know you were there. Come on, honey, I’ll walk you to your room. It’s late.”
I try to smile back at him as I grab my purse and sandals but inside I’m hollow. Just like that, Bobby’s in charge again and I’m dismissed for the night. Yeah, we’re tired and wrung out emotionally, but I still feel, I don’t know, broken. I know I’m being unfair, but I can’t just let go of all those years of hurt…