Unit 22 Come with Falling Snow…………………………385
BY the year my husband turned 40 and I hit the age of 35, John’s parents evidently were worried about us. His older brother had produced three grandchildren. So had his younger sister. We had produced none.
For my in-laws, to love is to worry. When John’s parents visited us from New York, his mother would get me alone and inquire delicately. After a perfect summer seafood dinner at their beach house, the same questions were fired at us. They always made attempts to know our attitude. Didn’t we want kids? Or was there a problem with our marriage?
John’s father rarely said anything, yet I knew that she spoke for both of them. He was a re
tired ambassador and he liked to call himself a cranky(怪僻的)old mail. But I knew that he cared
and they fretted(烦忧)over us together.
By then we were wondering too. In earlier years the pressure to procreate(生育)had made us roll our eyes. In our 20’s and even into our 30’s,we were ambivalent(矛盾的)about the whole idea of children. We certainly didn’t regard the decision as anyone’s business but our own. Besides, what was the big deal(了不起)?His parents already had six grandchildren. Why did they need more from us?
Then one day we realized that we were real adults—old enough to be somebody’s parents. We had exceeded the age of youthfulness. Suddenly we felt ready for a child.
As a baby became central to our hopes, I better understood my in-laws’ interference. Now in their sliver years, they took the connection between their later years of life and their children and grandchildren for their greatest pleasure. Our child would provide both us and them with a lifeline to the future.
Yet to hope does not always mean receiving. By the time 1 was 35,John and I had been“trying”for three years, however, I did not get pregnant. It seemed that Mother Nature(自然的力量)was displeased(使不快).Our sex life became a lab experiment, and our emotional life wavered monthly between hidden optimism and ruined expectations. Then finally, one day in January. The pregnancy test(孕检测试)turned pink(孕检测试呈现粉红表示怀孕).John and I stared repeatedly at the supernatural stick in excitement and could not firmly believe. Was this true? Should we tell everyone?
We decided to tell his parents on February 15, the day John’s father would turn 70.We were planning to surprise him by going up a few days early and to join the family for a birthday dinner at an elegant New York City restaurant. By then 1 would be six weeks pregnant. What an idea it would be to give him the ultimate gift—the news that, at long last, we would add a baby to the family.
We flew into Baltimore(巴尔的摩),planning to drive to New York the next day with John’s sister and her family. But nature was not cooperative. That was the winter of 1960,the year that broke records of snowfall on the East Coast(美国东海岸).A typhoon blew up then. And the weather forecasts issued stern warnings not to drive the next day.
We watched the news late into the night, huddled beside the fireplace as the snow continued to fall. Drinking hot tea and hot alcohol, we debated whether to drive out the next day. Finally, we acceded(同意)to the decision that the event meant too much not to gamble on it. My brother-in-law(妹夫),a can-do man who inspires absolute confidence, was cautious but willing to take the wheel.
The next morning we loaded into their station wagon—four edgy(急躁不安的)adults, three excited young boys and a golden retriever(猎狗).Then we spent eight tense hours driving north on icy(冰的)highways in a whirling blizzard(大风雪).
when we finally arrived t hat night, the landscape(地形)of the outskirts of New York had been transformed into a Nordic(北欧的)paradise. John’s father still had no idea we were coming. Wrapped in a huge thermal coat。John knocked on the front door. “How hard it is snowing!”He said to his dad. When his puzzled father finally recognized him and ascertained what really happened, he sank back into a chair. How had we appeared from Texas in the midst of a bleak snowstorm so fierce that airports had canceled flights? All of us thought that to make the old man stunned and pleased was worth the freezing on the long journey.
We didn’t make it into the city for our elegant dinner：the roads and bridges were Virtually in accessible(达不到的).We ended up eating at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Excited by our successful adventure, we made a noisy, festive(节日似的)party around the big family table. John and I exchanged a glance—now? Then I respectfully presented his father with a gift-wrapped box. He opened it, stared bewildered at our gift, a baby doll in a fabric fashioned from a Texas(得克萨斯州)flag. He held up the doll and kept saying“Oh my Cod!”with watering blue eyes. It traveled around the table, everyone congratulated us.
The next morning, I started to bleed and to feel pain. Then to bleed more. Both my sisters-in-law had suffered troublesome pregnancies. Late that afternoon they sat with me and John in his boyhood bedroom as we struggled to face the matter. I found a spiritual comfort from their concern and anxiety. A call to my doctor confirmed the terrible truth：I had probably had an abortion(流产).
That night the eight adults went out for a formal makeup birthday banquet at a restaurant. The atmosphere was strange and bittersweet(苦乐参半的).A 70th birthday celebration innately(天生就有地)has a dark note; to make a fuss of it is to acknowledge that the life is finite. Death may come at any hour. Aching with cramps(腹痛)and grief, I had wanted to stay home in bed. The sufferings spoiled my appetite. But John and his family had insisted on my joining them, and they were right. Our communal(集体的)dinner honored our father’s long life. We were family; sharing great meals was our glue and our comfort. We all drowned our complicated emotions in the toasts to my father-in-law(岳父).
The weather cleared the next day, and we flew home. On the way to the airport, I saw the doll lying abandoned in the back of my sister-in-law’s station wagon. Its face smiled up at me mockingly. Let them throw it out. I thought.1 wished we had never given my father-in-law that absurd baby doll.
Back home. John and 1 were struck down by the power of our grief. Neither of us could drag ourselves to work. We felt like a couple of baggage in a locker. After we had tried so long and got pregnant, the miscarriage(流产)was a tough, depressing loss. And to have lost the pregnancy so publicly made it even worse.
But once again, nature surprised us. Two months later, almost by accident, I turned up pregnant—a miracle! This time, we superstitiously(迷信地)kept the news to ourselves for a full three months. During those long days, we barely even allowed ourselves to believe in the pregnancy. If we had no expectations, then maybe we couldn’t be hurt. But despite our fears, this one was a keeper. The little being inside me lived and blossomed, grasped kicked, and together we grew into fullness.
On January 31, our daughter, Addie, was born. When she emerged after a long, hard labor, I asked for her to be placed skin-to-skin on my chest. She felt warm and solid and delicious. We gazed into each other’s eyes and 1 was instantly in love. The many obstacles that John and I had Overcome made US go into raptures(兴高采烈)over the birth of the little being. Among our most joyous phone calls was the one to his parents. We did it! She’s here! She’s perfect!
The next morning, when John’s mother Game down to breakfast, she found the doll dressed in the Texas flag. Unknown(未知的)to US, my old father-in-law had kept the little darling dull tucked away for a year. Before placing the doll next to his wife’s plate, he had taped a note to it. It read“Hi, I’m Addie.”
He understood what we did not：life sometimes demands more patience than you can bear. He hadn’t given up hope. Our happiness didn’t come in the form we first expected, but it was delivered just the same.
It rarely snows in Austin(奥斯汀市)。Texas, but on Addle’s first birthday, the sky turned gray, then it snowed. The city was in white. I bundled up our sweet girl and carried her outside SO that she could feel and taste the falling snow a rare birthday gift from nature. We laughed as we caught snowflakes(雪花)on our tongues. I hadn’t seen snow myself since that East Coast storm two years before. Then it had been accompanied by an emotional blizzard. Now 1 watched it fall gently as I cradled my giggling(咯咯笑)daughter in my arms. I had learned a lot about love, hope and being a family in two years’ time.
I tried to make 0ut the intricate structure of individual snowflakes, to Capture their unique beauty. But they melted on my hand. So I gave up and watched as they united into white drifts on our deck, gathering like the fullness of our family’s life.