The wishing tree

The thought hadn’t even occurred to me. Not until my father-in-law, visiting from overseas, asked about the place.  “Oh, it’s a convention center.  The last time I was here was for a huge meeting in late 2008”. It could have been 10 lifetimes ago. The meeting was not exactly in my field but I used to enjoy those meetings most of all. I had this theory that I had more to learn from them because they were more likely to lead to a paradigm shift, a new way of approaching problems.  Scientists, I reasoned, have an unfortunate tendency to shut themselves into their narrow niche.  In reality, I was pretty much lost the moment the acronyms started to fly, usually just a few minutes into a talk.

The decision to attend that meeting had been motivated largely by the desire to get back to “normal”, to refocus after the devastating loss of my first pregnancy just 5 months earlier.  Wishful thinking.  To my surprise, I had conceived again, perhaps too quickly for my own good, and was now entering my second trimester.  I took advantage of the breaks to wander the city and shop for larger, more concealing, clothes.  I hoped that nobody would take notice this time unless I was granted the good fortune to announce the arrival of an actual baby.  Unfortunately, this was proving to be rather challenging as I was already surprisingly large.  At the time I had no idea that I was carrying twins.  At 9 weeks my doctor and I had cheered at the sight of one lovely heartbeat.

I had reached the next step in my career path.  I should have been introducing myself to strategic people.  I should have been vigorously promoting my work.  Had I known about the wishing tree in the garden, I should have promptly visited and wished for a smooth path to the publication of my work and it’s wide recognition in the field.  It never came up in discussion.

I was avoiding asking myself the difficult questions at that point.  To me there was only one question and it was by far the most difficult of all.  Will my baby live?  Yes! And no.

Today the sun is shining and g is dancing around a playground that I didn’t even know existed during those rainy days of the conference.  He delights in the break in routine, the extra helping of attention.  I search for my disappointment but it is nowhere to be found.  I wonder where on earth it is hiding.  Today we find a wishing tree and I make a wish. And today I believe that it is the most important wish of all.

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