This is a crazy dream that I had a few nights ago. As Mark and I discussed it, we came up with no rational answers about where it came from or what it symbolizes, other than my greatest fear as a parent is that I will be taken from my children too soon. I don't fear death and I look forward to heaven, but I pray that my children will be grown when God calls me home. In the meantime, this story reads like something from the Twilight Zone - hopefully you'll enjoy it!
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and dreams filled with happiness and fresh flowers!
A short fictional piece by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
He reached the voicemail the first time he called: "this is Otto, leave a message" said the voice on the recording. He couldn't bring himself to do it so he hung up. He just knew something was going wrong at the Otto household and he didn't want to overstep his boundaries as Mrs. Otto's Gynecologist. He waited a few days and tried again, only to hear the same recording. This time he left a message: "Mark, this is Dr. Leach. We met back in December at Crystal's appointment. I would like it if you would call me back please. The number is nine two zero, three two zero, four thousand. I'll talk to you soon; thank you." He hung up the phone and shook his head. He wished he had a better understanding of what was going through his patient's head and the only way to find out would be to talk to her husband.
Mark finished bedding the heifers, fixing the broken water line, and was about to take apart the bucket mechanism on the broken skid steer when he heard the familiar beeping of a voicemail on his phone. He took off his gloves, reached into his pocket, and looked at the screen. He shrugged his shoulders not recognizing the number and proceeded to pull off his hat, bring the phone to his ear, and listen to the voicemail. It sure was odd that Crystal's 'girl doctor' would be calling him. He was about to place the phone back in his pocket when a nagging voice in his head told him to make the call and talk to the Doctor.
Mark dialed the number rather hesitantly and was surprised when Dr. Leach answered on the second ring. Mark was worried, knowing that the busy Doctor had given him his direct line.
Mark: "Dr. Leach, this is Mark Otto, Crystal's husband....you called?"
Dr.: "Yes Mark, thank you for calling back so quickly. It's important that we chat. How is Crystal holding up and how are you all doing with the news?"
Mark: "Oh, well we are all pretty shocked, but we are doing well. She's been napping a lot, but other than that, we are doing okay. I think she's coming to see you next Friday with one of her friends. I can't get away, but she'll have plenty of support."
Dr.: "That's good to hear. I'm glad she's got support right now. If you need any help or additional resources, please let me know. Okay? I was a little shocked by her initial response and wanted to make sure everyone was handling the news as best as possible."
Mark: "Thanks so much, I better get back to this broken skid steer, but thanks for your concern Doctor. See you soon I'm sure."
Dr.: Good Bye.
Mark: Good Bye.
Dr. Leach hung up the phone and ran his fingers through his thinning hair. It was just a few months ago this lovely couple and their two young children had sat in his office excited about the new baby. It was hard enough telling them that the baby had died, but now it seemed so unfair that they had all of this to deal with too. This was the part of his job he really hated.
Even after her D&C from the missed miscarriage, Crystal had seemed hopeful about her own health and the possibility of having another baby. She was easy going, fun loving, and devoted to her children and her husband. Dr. Leach was excited to help her achieve her goals of having another baby. He reminded her about watching her weight, eating right, and assured her that 35 was not too old to conceive. He was certain he would see her in a few months after she had another positive home pregnancy test.
She had come in even sooner than he expected; she was concerned that it had been eight weeks since the D&C and still no period. He ran the hormone level test and was optimistic when the results came back with 50,600. At her appointment, he scheduled the ultrasound and told her about the possibilities:
"Crystal, this could be exactly what you want, just a little sooner than you'd planned. Based on your levels, you could be 6-8 weeks pregnant with a single child, 4-6 weeks pregnant with twins, or I better tell you the long shot here ... there's always the possibility that part of the placenta was not removed and it is multiplying and mutating and you could have a cancerous mass throwing off your hormone levels - but that's doubtful okay? Let's just see what happens with the ultrasound."
She had looked confused by those options and checked her calendar. There was no way she was as pregnant as he thought. 6-8 weeks was an impossibility and even 4-6 weeks was a stretch of the imagination. She had hugged him when leaving the office and smiled saying "God has a plan and I'm excited. See you in a few weeks Doc!"
Those were the exact same parting words she used the day he gave her the devastating news. He himself believed in God and had gone to Catholic school, hell - he even worked at a Catholic hospital, but how could she be handling this with a smile? He just couldn't explain it. Now that he had talked to her husband, he was even more confused.
Mark hadn't given anymore thought to the conversation with Dr. Leach. Crystal and the children got home, she made the children supper, did laundry, did homework, tucked the kids in bed, and was waiting with a hot meal when he came in from the barn. Her belly was getting bigger every day and he couldn't wait until their baby would arrive. It wasn't ideal that she was so tired and throwing up all the time, but knowing life was growing inside of was so exciting for both of them. She was growing even closer to the older children and he couldn't wait to share the good news with them.
"Did you pick up the paint for Andre's room?" he asked while enjoying his steak and potatoes that evening. She assured him that she had a coupon and would be heading to Menards first thing next week. Then she wrapped her arms around his neck and reminded him that she loved him with her whole heart and she couldn't imagine what would have happened had they not met and fell in love. He looked at her with the same longing he had on their wedding day and reminded her that she was his soul mate. With that, he finished his dinner and they went up to bed to make love and hold one another close.
That night she had the same dream and again she awoke sweating and having trouble breathing. She was back in Dr. Leach's office and instead of telling her about the baby in her uterus he was telling her that there was a tumor that had spread and she had months to live. Instead of giving her a due date of September 30th he was telling her that it would be nothing short of a miracle if she lived until September to see Andre and Carmen start kindergarten and first grade. Her head was spinning, she couldn't tell truth from fiction. She felt her tummy and it was growing, she felt like she was going to throw up - how could all of these symptoms be the symptoms of her own death instead of indications that new life was beginning inside of her?
In a rare moment of clarity, she rolled over and tapped her sleeping husband on the shoulder. She wanted so badly to tell him the truth. She wanted to remind him about which Cemetery she wanted her ashes buried in, which songs she wanted sung at the funeral, and how she wanted the children cared for. "Mark, wake up - please." and all she heard was snoring. She rolled over, pulled the blankets up to her chin and thought, it's better if they don't know what's coming. I can just pretend everything is okay and we can make happy memories up until the end. I'm just not strong enough to face them and say goodbye.
With that thought, she closed her eyes and went to sleep dreaming about the child she so desperately wished was growing in her toxic womb.