The Day We Lost Roe

The Day We Lost Roe

I walk down to the pond by my parents’ house
with my children; daughter Kavi, age fifteen,
son Anand, almost thirteen. Walking

is a good time to have difficult conversations.

Walking, you don’t have to look your children
in the face when you say awkward things like

‘if you do decide you want to have sex’

— Anand shouts, ‘I don’t think so!!!’ —

and you persevere: ‘I’d really like you to tell me first,

so I can take you to get appropriate contraception.’

When your daughter says ‘okay,’ you can say ‘promise?’
and she can say ‘yes.’ You can do all of that without

looking her in the eyes, or embarrassing her too much.

(Although you might actually end up asking her to
pinky-promise and then spit on your finger when you do,
because that makes it more real — visiting my parents’
house, part of me is a child again. It also makes them laugh;

finding laughter on a day like today is worth something).

We reach the pond and spend time with schools
of dark and gleaming fish. Kavi spots a tiny turtle.
Then a much bigger one, which Anand claims has sharp

teeth, comes swimming up. He’s a little scared.

Dragonflies glimmer across the water, in the fading light,
and geese honk at the far edge. I pick up discarded
goose feathers, and Anand takes one gleefully to battle with,

but Kavi is afraid to touch them. They are both so young.

We start walking again, and they say they don’t plan
on having sex anytime soon, and I tell them
I’m glad. But I also tell them that I knew girls
in Catholic school with me, who got pregnant
and had abortions when they were twelve, younger
than either of them are now. Sometimes, you have sex

(for so many reasons) when you hadn’t planned to.

We live in Illinois, my parents live in Connecticut,
my sisters live in D.C. and New York, my sister-in-law
lives in California. We have seven children among us,
and for now, all of our children are protected on this front,
if contraception fails them, or if they fail at contraception.

They will have options, unlike so many other children.

I got pregnant in college, when contraception
failed me, and even then, the window between
figuring it out and being legally allowed to terminate
was very small. Those days could disappear before you
thought everything through, before you made a decision,
before you got the money together, before you found

a plane to fly you somewhere safe and legal.

In three years, Kavi will likely go to college, and if we adults
haven’t found a way to fix this by then — and the mid-terms
are looking grim, my friends, so I’m not expecting miracles
on that front — then the list of colleges she’ll have

to choose from may suddenly get much shorter.

A tiny consequence in the larger crisis, when so many women
will lose their bodily autonomy, their health, and their lives —

but we’re allowed to grieve our losses.

Today, I’m grieving for my children.

Tomorrow, we’ll start teaching them to fight.

*****

June 25, 2022

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