As newly wedded grown ups expecting a baby, my husband at the age of twenty and my eighteen-year-old self were figuring life out. Of course, we would be brilliant parents. Yup, all grown up. Ok, so there were a couple of times we called each other in sick to work so that we could stay home and play cards. What can I say? Both times we vowed never to do it again. It was time to grow up. But, there was precious little time that we would have to spend, just the two of us. The grown up world was at the door, and we were pretending not to be home.
Our baby grew and danced inside of me. A month before our little one was due, the apartment on the main floor of that adorable little house became available, and we jumped at it. We moved everything from our tiny little corner apartment upstairs down to our new home, two bedrooms, a regular sized kitchen, a regular sized bathroom, and gorgeous windows with etched leaded glass on the tops that cast exquisite rainbows when the sun shined through them at the end of the day. What a perfect place to start our family. All of the statistics, stacked up, were towering over us. I was determined that we would never become a statistic. They weren’t about us. We would be happy here, right?
And so, the other shoe fell. The husband was laid off from work. I had no idea when my maternity leave should begin, and I was too timid to ask my boss at the grocery store. One day, one of the older cashiers went to him and said, “Are you going to send the poor girl on maternity leave, or were you planning on waiting for her water to break right there at the checkout?” So my maternity leave began and all income stopped. We signed up for all of the public assistance available to us, and then we buried our heads in the sand. Some of the warmer days were spent working on race car out in the garage that we had acquired with the new grown-up apartment. I remember sitting out there together actively participating in the mister’s project, “Now you can say that you helped mount a roll cage.” “Is that what we were working on? I helped mount a roll cage!” The world was falling down around our ears, but we paid no heed. The sun continued to shine in the brilliant way that the sun only can in February.
One morning, as I worked on a new recipe (I was expanding my horizons), I listened to the tv in the other room. A space shuttle with a teacher on board was about to be launched. I stopped what I was doing when the count-down began. I watched, in awe, as the shuttle lifted off, thinking how cool it was going to be for those kids to have their teacher in space. And then the sky lit up. The space shuttle Challenger had exploded. I think everyone knew what they were seeing. I remember feeling dumbfounded, not wanting to admit to myself that I knew what the world had just witnessed. Our nation, along with the rest of the earth had experienced catastrophic events, enough to know that in that moment, the world had been changed.