Off Spring

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where the person you love no longer loves you? And when you try and talk to them about it your words fall on deaf ears. There’s no rational (or irrational) way you can make them change their mind, no protest large enough, no sentence true enough. Yet you continue to explain, letting them know that they must be mistaken, they simply must still love you. But the eyes that were once welcoming and understanding sit empty across from you. The change seems so sudden, it’s as if all along you had been a virus for which they suddenly found a vaccination.

There aren’t many feelings more horrible and distressing than the one I described above, at least for me.

And I know this feeling well. I’ve experienced it a couple of times over the course of my life. I remember asking a man, on what would become the last day of our relationship, “What can I do to make things different? Do you just need time? You’ll be back, right?” We met somewhere neutral and ate sandwiches. He looked everywhere but at me. I looked nowhere but at him as he looked everywhere else. And after a meager explanation – one stuffed with quests unfulfilled – I realized he was already gone.

And on the day that Tobyjoe said, “I do.” I let out an ocean-sized sigh of relief realizing that I would probably never have to go through that again. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, which meant that no matter how stagnant things might become during our time together, he’d wait it out with the knowledge that love would soon return.

Last night I had a dream that Tobyjoe stopped loving me. We were in the middle of a tree-lined street when I recognized it. We had been out walking. I asked him to tell me. He did. I begged. He walked ahead of me. I heard only the sound of wind blowing through plush, spring leaves. Other than that it was silent – life was.

I’ve had nightmares like this before and I always wake up relieved. “He’s still here! He’s right here. It was just a horrible dream.” And I’ll grab a hold of him and hug him tightly, waking him up in the process. And today I woke up feeling very much the same relief. But today it only lasted for a few seconds.

When I was going through a breakup – devastated, missing school, not eating – my mother would come into my room or call me on the phone and she’d say, “I know that it doesn’t seem this way now, but you WILL get over this. You will not feel sad forever. You will not miss him forever. I know you don’t believe me now, but someday this won’t hurt at all.”

Later, after time had proven that she was once again correct, she said, “I know how you felt. I went through it as well. But nothing hurts more than watching your child suffer through it.”

When I exhaled on the day that Tobyjoe said, “I do.” I hadn’t thought about a son.


  1. I’m still heartbroken from the person I love dumping me in January, so I’m really looking forward to the day when that kind of nightmare only happens when I’m asleep. :(


  2. Oh, Katie, I am so sorry. I know what you’re feeling. I really, really do. Being heartbroken is possibly the worst feeling anyone can feel next to death. I am not sure why this is, but I have these dreams at least 10 times a year. It’s as if someone wants to remind me of the feeling and the fact that it still happens.


  3. Break my heart. I don’t know much about much, but as a newly married woman who is pondering parenthood, you’ve reminded me that I know NOTHING about the pain of having a child in pain. Maybe each heartbreak was meant to make me stronger for those future days. Maybe nothing can do that. Your dream and your thoughts have really hit home this morning… Just when I thought I was done with broken hearts, I realize there are still more to come.


  4. p.s. perfect photo.


  5. As a self-proclaimed dream analyst (I read a lot of dream-analysis books during my pot-head days in art school, how that for credibility!?). Anyway, I would say that your dream about Tobyjoe not loving you anymore isn’t literal in that sense, but more a manifestation on how your life and relationship is going to change completely once your baby is born. I know when I’m making a big life changes, like buying a home, or starting my business, I tend to have recurring dreams about death, or that i’m running and my legs suddenly go paralyzed. I wake up rattled, as well. Not to minimize your current feelings, or past experiences, but it’s totally normal.

    I just discovered your blog and I enjoy it very much.


  6. My wife’s family has an extensive history of schizophrenia. I’m terrified that some day I will look into my child’s eyes and he will no longer be there.


  7. Powerful post, Mihow. Evocative. I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

    Terrified, I come from a long line of schizophrenics, including my mother, and one reason I’m afraid of having children is just the thing you described.


  8. Michele, that was an awesome post.

    I’ve been thinking about ending a relationship where I feel the other person left it a long time ago. It hurts when you don’t feel the love anymore. Maybe today I’ll have the courage to do it.


  9. If it means anything (and it does, to me), your mom’s advice has come through before, in your counsel to me. I’m an adult and I’m not your child, but I thought you should know that I think your kid, even when he’s heartbroken, will be in great shape having you and TJ on his side.


  10. I’m crying for the second time today and it’s not even 10 AM.


  11. The first time I cried today I was at the gym on the elliptical. It’s on the second floor. It overlooks the street. Someone had dumped a bunch of books out onto the sidewalk. They were everywhere! I haven’t ever seen that many discarded books before! They were all over the sidewalk and street, like library guts.

    Anyway, a young woman walked up and bent down to sort through a couple of them. Finding one that interested her, she plopped her butt down onto the pavement and began to read. I became emotional. (I do that these days.) I think it was the way she sat down with this particular book, which had been badly beaten up, pages were falling out of it and onto the sidewalk around her. Even if she wanted to read it I knew that she’d have trouble doing so, with the pages blowing away like that. She was wearing red. I wanted to talk to to her for some reason.

    Not sure why, but that made me cry.


  12. If it’s any consolation, parenthood isn’t all worry and anguish. It’s mostly joy and happiness. Your son is not doomed to a life of heartbreak and pain … quite the contrary. There is every reason to believe that he will enjoy a life of triumph, love and joy. Heartbreaks are the lessons we learn along the way. They’re inevitable.

    Within the past 24 hours, I can recall hearing each of my kids laughing and hugging and kissing each of them—and I didn’t get home from work until 9pm last night and I was out the door by 7:15 this morning. Sure, Owen may be a little nervous because soccer practice starts today and he still can’t tie his cleats, and Pippy was up twice during the night because a little brat in her class told her a scary story (about a lightning flash that illuminated a bedroom to reveal a doll turning its head and waving at her), but we all had a good laugh at the dog’s expense (making up lyrics to the tune of “The Candyman”).

    There’s so much fun to look forward to; why look for things to upset yourself?


  13. Y’all, I don’t ONLY think about negative, terrible things. What I write here is only a minute part of what goes through my head everyday. I know that you know that, but I need to reiterate as much.

    I wrote this because the dream was fresh and I realized that someday I will have a similar conversation with my son that my mother has had with me. That’s not all doom and gloom, quite the contrary, my mother helped me become stronger (with a little help from both Michael Stipe and Mick Jagger, of course).

    Y’all must remember that when you come here.

    I don’t look for things to upset myself at all. In fact, the dream reminded me of sadness. I have felt happier than I have in years recently.


  14. As soon as you become a parent your heart lives outside yourself.

    Somedays the heart is trampled but most days it is uplifted.

    It is always amplified.


  15. This is my favorite thing you’ve ever written.


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