An Open Letter To The Daughter I'm Not Going To Have
August 10, 2012
by Shawn Bean
© Courtesy Weldon Owen
You were going to be a girl. I just knew it. Boys have dominated the Bean family for years. It’s been a baby blue tsunami for generations now—dude after dude after dude—but you were going to change that. My sons Jackson and Tanner didn’t know it, but they were going to move in together, into the bedroom at the end of the hallway, and share bunk beds. You would have gotten the middle bedroom, the one closest to Mom and Dad’s room. It would have pink, lime green and chocolate. Your name would have been Tova or Adelaide.
For years, we’ve thought about you. We debated creating you. There were tears. It was yes and then no. Then yes again, then no again. In one moment, we scrutinized your existence in crude, basic, selfish terms: the cost, the timing, the added responsibility, what it would mean to our careers and lifestyle. Then in the next moment, we eagerly anticipated your existence as your big brothers got older, became increasingly independent, began talking like teenagers. The remnants of baby in Tanner’s six-year-old face keeps us from missing you even more.
But decisions have to be made, precautions must be taken. You can’t just wing family. So there’s a plan in place. There will be a medical procedure, probably in the fall. It’s simple, my buddy says. Buy a few bags of frozen peas at the grocery store. Stay off your feet for a couple days, and you’ll be fine.
Never knowing you is a strange thing considering you were almost here. The pregnancy test showed a plus sign. We announced the news to the family. And then, you were gone. I called my mom the next morning. Sitting in a parking garage, I told her the news. She was kind, sympathetic and supportive. I hung up, and cried, my head on the steering wheel.
It’s only now, faced with the idea of never knowing you, that I want to know you. I want to yell Addy, come downstairs for dinner. I want friends to tell us Tova is a beautiful name; in turn, I would tell them it's Hebrew for “good.”
But I can’t overlook what I already have. We are a happy family. We are healthy: All our digits and organs are accounted for. We are perfectly proportioned: Standing shoulder to shoulder, we resemble a bar graph of the Russian economy after the fall of communism. We are lucky: There are endless treats in the pantry, and a kidney-shaped hole in the back yard filled with chlorinated water.
I don’t want to be the guy who wants what he hasn’t got. I want to be the guy who treasures what he has now. So I’m saying goodbye, sweet girl.
I’m sure you’ll still hear us talk about you every now and then. What if we… Imagine what it might be like… Woulda shoulda coulda. And who knows: Maybe one day we will meet. Maybe in spite of all our careful planning and responsible strategizing, you’ll find your way here anyway. It’s totally possible, right? After all, family can never end. It can only begin.