Liz flew to Colorado to be with her brother and sister-in-law, after the bad business. My stepmother flew out with my half-sister to help care for Francie and Jamie while she was away. That was actually quite nice, if for tragic reasons. It had been some time since I had spent any time with Abbey -- she didn't want to get roped into 'babysitting and junk' back in Milborough, and we were far enough apart in age that we didn't even go through the usual sibling rivalries. Pierre says I still have unresolved issues where she's concerned -- having come into the house so soon after my birth mother left it and all -- but I don't think he's right. I think Abbey is a nice girl if a little brash, and I think she has her own life and doesn't need it complicated by my issues.
Sadly, while Clarice and Abbey were with me, my father did himself a rather bad disservice. In the aftermath of the special election he began publicly speaking out against Tracey's crusade to have investigations into the environmental impact of various policies instituted some time ago, and the ramifications for children born in that environment. I wish I could believe it had nothing to do with me, but of course it did -- he isn't really striking out against the investigation, he's trying to hurt Gord and Tracey because I didn't facilitate his expansion plans. He was enabled, at the least, by Roger Arsenault, who's my ex-wife's father. Mr. Arsenault, at least, isn't motivated by me. He wants property values to plummet so he can take advantage. Dad is just a convenient tool to accomplish that. The investigation would have had an impact -- a fight means a scandal and that means bargain real estate.
Apparently, Caine Accounting has lost some significant clients. Perhaps a financial firm employed by an area neonatal clinic shouldn't speak publicly against investigating area birth defect incidence rates.
It's depressing. These are real people. I should know. I'm one of them and so's Liz. When she got back from Colorado she spent a lot of time just staring at James Allen. I know she's wondering if she can safely bear another child, from what she said to Pierre at therapy.
As we were driving home, I asked her about that.
"Huh?" she asked.
"Were you thinking... about another child? At some point? In the future, I mean?"
"Oh. Oh... well, you know. Someday. I want the option, you know?" She looked away from me.
"Of course," I said. My chest felt like it had broken glass in it, but I tried not to show it. We have been doing so much better, I suppose for a moment I had begun to hope. But then, that is usually a bad idea.
"Would you want another child?" she asked after a long while. "I mean, you have two. You don't seem like the big family type, really."
"I... guess it depends," I said. "I don't think I'm a big family or small family type. I just like... family."
"So... if we go to the doctor, say, and they tell me I shouldn't risk it again... what does that mean to you? I mean--"
"Elizabeth," I said softly. "I'm worried about you. Not what you can produce 'for me.'"
We pulled into our parking spot. She hadn't said anything.
"We haven't had a child together," she said, very quietly. "Not yet."
I took a deep breath at that. How do you even answer something like that? How do people who aren't... broken... answer things like that?
I know what I should have said, looking back. I should have reminded her that I was there for her morning sickness and I was there for James Allen's birth, and that James Allen is a child we had together, no matter where his genetics came from.
Instead, we went upstairs and paid the babysitter -- this was after Mom and Abbey went home -- and put the kids to bed and then I went to my room and Elizabeth went to hers, and I lay in bed for hours feeling that broken glass feeling.
The irony is, James Allen's genetic father wasn't from Milborough. We talk a lot about the 'potential damage' to women, miscarriages and the like, but of the two children in our house, one was born to a girl who wasn't from the affected area, and the other was sired by a boy who wasn't from the affected area. Our children aren't necessarily immune but they have a better chance than many connected to our town.
Doctor Patterson spoke out against my father's statement, invoking his medical credentials and the number of children he'd seen in his practice over the course of years. "Too many people want to just blame fate for things in this world," he said. "I'm one of them. It's easy to blame fate. This time -- this time let's get the real facts instead." He said that on television. I won't say everything he said was a good idea -- Gord and Tracey might have something to say about it -- but he's still feeling hurt in his own way, and at least he was coming out on the right side. We talked about it on the phone. I guess he's spending more time with his friend these days, which is a good sign.
Family. Just a little while ago, I overheard Liz arguing with someone -- her cousin, I think. I'm not sure about the details. I made her a cup of cocoa and set it next to her after she'd hung up, but she was fuming and didn't want to talk and I wasn't about to push it. She did drink the cocoa though.
Our plans are still moving forward -- the whole family flying out to Colorado for Christmas. We've made the offer to April, but she hasn't gotten back to us yet. With luck, our family can help Mike and Deanna have a brighter Christmas, and I know Françoise has been looking forward to spending time with her cousins.
Françoise is so happy around family. I hope she can always feel that way. It would be nice to feel that way.
I have to get back to the office. More next month.