It was last Christmas Eve. I arrived at my dad’s house in the afternoon having found out I was pregnant four days earlier, gone to a doctor, had an ultrasound and started the course for a medical abortion three days earlier and gone through the actual purging the day before. You can find that story here.
Now, I walked into a home just concluding lunch: my step-mum clearing up, my brother and my sister-in-law lounging in the sun, my four-year-old-nephew, shirtless, undertaking the very important task of holding nails in his pockets while my dad, equally shirtless, was up a ladder nailing some shade cloth over several beams for more coolth around the outside eating table.
I felt empty in my abdomen. I felt like I should feel different, not really sure how though. I was grateful for my snug denim shorts muffling the big old sanitary pad in my underwear which stuck to my inner thigh, made a plasticky sound and felt like it stuck out behind me like a surfboard.
I had a chat with the family, not quite feeling like the same person I was last time I saw them. Then I hopped up the ladder and helped my dad nail the shade cloth, each of us pulling the fabric taut at opposite ends. By the time we were done my nephew and his parents were fading and retreated from the afternoon sun for a nap. My step-mum was off in the kitchen. I decided that this was my moment; I didn’t want to go through Christmas with this though on my heart.
“Dad, can I talk to you. Alone?”
“Sure love, shall we go sit under the tree?”
We strolled across the little lawn to the white, cast-iron table and four chairs. As we were sitting down I said:
“Okay there are some rules to this conversation. 1: You can’t interrupt me, I just want you to listen. 2: You’re not allowed to shout, but you can hug me afterwards if you want.”
Grinning, my dad responded, “Okay.”
To which I replied “Oooh, you’re not going to like this.”
I don’t remember the moment before I said the words but I can see the moment afterwards clearly, even now.
“Four days ago, I found out I was pregnant. I’m not anymore.”
The words bore straight to his centre and his face went lax. Suddenly he looked like an old man, not my dad. His eyes seemed to collapse with concern and the want to protect, letting the tears rise. I started babbling:
“I did it the best way, I promise, it was safe and I did all the tests and I’m healthy and it’s finished now and I found out really early. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, I didn’t want to seem like a knocked up teenager wanting money or anything. I’m sorry dad, I’m so sorry…”
I don’t remember the movement but I was standing hugging him tightly, and he was saying:
“You brave, brave girl.”