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8-What is love

Mom and Dad’s visit came and went, passing by like a tepid breeze, quickly washing over us with warmth and love, then gently disappearing just as it had come. The sounds of laughter, joy and freedom, still echoed in our home long after they had gone.  For a short time I went back to being a child, my mother’s child, she coddled me, forced me to sit and relax. They cooked the daily meals, bought groceries, picked up the house and pampered me.  It was a strange feeling to have helping hands around the house, at first I resisted.  After a few days I  surrendered as my aching feet and back were happy to have the rest. Mom brought me things she felt were not needed, frivolous and lovely, scented lotions, floral notebooks, calendars and candles. I tucked them away for another day and treasured them each time I opened my dresser drawer. For those weeks full of tender moments I was special, I was once again loved.

I watched them back up in the old pick up and pull away from our parking spot, out of the gate and off  to my sister’s home. My brother in law would take them back to the airport and their long journey back home would begin.  The kids stood looking out the large compound window. Grampa’s puzzle still sat on the dining room table, it had been finished with the help of the boys and See See. The little ones, Foof and Abude ran and played and knocked pieces off of the table, that was their contribution.  As the kids wandered off to play, my mind went to my parents and homesickness that had already set in. I heard the words inside my head, the words I had heard so many times before. My mind didn’t accept these thoughts, but somewhere deep in my heart they had taken hold. It had started in the old green vega years before, as we sat in the dark exchanging longing looks and words that lovers share. He explained that my parents were indeed very good, well educated and hard working. He said that of course they cared for me, but no one in the universe would ever love me as he did, as his family did. He informed me that my parents loved me, but in a different way. Those words were so easily repeated time and time again. I heard a loud thud which brought me back to the present time, to find Foof standing on the couch teasing Abude. Life moved on, I cleaned the puzzle pieces off of the table and boxed them up.

I was heading into my 7th month of pregnancy, contractions came and went, my back ached and feet cramped but I didn’t care. Life was free and easy, having a soft bed to sleep on, knowing the kids were going to school each day without the threat of humiliation and fear.  Gloria and Guadalupe continued to question me about my pregnancy and the “plan.”  I continued to laugh and nod as if I had it all under control, the perfect life and family. I could not face the thoughts that tried to break through to my brain, thoughts of another delivery in this place that was unrelenting and cruel. I could see the female Doctor’s face as she raised her voice and pushed something into my IV. My body immediately seemed to convulse and shake uncontrollably, unlike any other birth I had experienced. “I told you to take the medication and you would have had this baby” her piercing voice continuing to berate me as I sputtered and struggled to catch my breath. I could not face this again and so I pushed it back to the furthest corners of my mind with a nod and a smile when inquiries came my way.

Each week continued as before, he came for two days and went back to work in Riyadh for the week. When he arrived, the kids gathered around him as if he was a movie star. They laughed and jumped trying to hop into his arms. He swung them around and sang silly songs in Arabic, it was a picture perfect life. I stood smiling inside, happy for this home coming.  He spoke of the beautiful compound where we would live in just a few months and updated me on it’s progress.  The “sheik” had become a close friend and he spent most nights in Riyadh rubbing elbows with the rich and famous of Saudi. Once the kids had gone back to playing he sat with me to review the week. He spoke of school, homework, the health of the children and the inevitable, my parents. The “incident”  was gone over in detail, questions asked about my behavior, his place in this family, every word repeated and dissected. The “incident” had occurred when I stepped off of the shopping bus carrying bags of groceries, children hanging onto my abaya. Entering my 7th month of pregnancy, I limped, haphazardly carrying groceries, diaper bag and holding little hands. Mom and the kids carried bags trying to help, he sat in the foyer on the phone chatting and waved his hand to hush us as we entered. My mother with a stern look interrupted him and motioned for him to come and help. A scowl grew across his forehead as he spoke louder and returned to his conversation. I diverted mom’s attention and sent the boys out for the rest of the bags. This had stuck in his mind for two weeks and so we began what would be a 2 hour inquiry full of rhetorical questions and unsatisfying answers on my part.