Through All the Dust
Chapter Sixty-Eight: Saint Lauren
I was quiet as we headed out from the coffee shop, Lauren tailing behind me with hands full of brown paper cups. She struggled to keep up with me as I sped down the sidewalk, headed for anywhere but where I was.
I couldn’t begin to imagine what that would look like for me…What would that mean for my career?
Sure, I could finish out this tour. I wasn’t the only musician to ever tour while pregnant. Didn’t one of the Spice Girls do it? The Posh one…I’m pretty sure. Anyway, I was no Posh Spice and Brian was no David Beckham. I could wrap up this tour…but then what? I’d go back to California to my empty home…to do this alone?
How did Brian fit into this equation? Was he going to drop his life to be there for me? To rub my feet and hold my hair back? Did I want him to? Was it fair to ask of him?
I had too many questions. The only resolve I could think to find was to walk it off. Maybe I could walk off the pregnancy—was that I thing? I pushed myself harder, faster.
It wasn’t the right time. I had too much momentum in my career to just abandon it on a whim. How could I possibly tour with an infant on my hip? When would I find the time to record? To do media released? To let photographers snap my picture? Where would our money come from?
Sure, Brian made a handsome income…but I was the real breadwinner of our little twosome family. It wasn’t like we’d go broke by any means…but I liked having my own surplus of cash. I liked being able to take care of my own. I didn’t want to have to rely on Brian to fund my life.
Financial strain was the least of my worries, though. What about me? I was hardly in the head space to raise a child. I could hardly raise myself. It hadn’t been long since I’d seriously contemplated taking myself out of the race of life…What if that never went away? What if I passed it onto my child?
I couldn’t breathe.
I ducked through a chain link fence and into a park, soaking up the Texas sun as it nipped at my shoulders. Up ahead I spotted a wooden picnic bench, the perfect place to rest my anxious soul.
As I collapsed onto the bench, my hand found my belly. I consciously removed my extremity from the parasite buried somewhere deep inside of me. Maybe it was a false positive…Maybe I was freaking out for nothing.
Why was I freaking out?
A rapturous growl escaped from my throat as I let my emotions flood through me. Lauren, who had been tailing me, stopped in her tracks—looking frightened of the animal I’d morphed into before her.
I collapsed onto my arms, burying my face into my elbow.
“B,” Lauren’s voice cooed.
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her.
“Sit up,” she instructed me as she slid into the bench opposite mine.
I glanced up at her through the strands of my black hair. She was smiling, holding a steaming cup of coffee out to me.
“What did it say?” she asked sweetly. “Not that I can’t guess, judging by your sudden interest in speed walking.”
“You know what it said,” I grumbled, shaking my head as I buried my face once more.
She reached out and ran her fingers through my hair, “What’s going on, Blair? Why are you so devastated?”
Devastated. Is that how I appeared?
I didn’t want to be that guy.
Against my will, I sat up and snatched the coffee from Lauren’s hand.
“I’m not devastated,” I sighed. “I’m…freaking out.”
“I see that,” she smiled faintly. “But why?”
“I’m not ready to be a mother,” I told her, trying my best not to cry like the baby I was allegedly carrying. “It isn’t a good time.”
She took my hand into hers and gave it a good squeeze, “It’s never a good time.”
I grumbled something of a cliché, annoyed that she’d offered me once in consolation.
“Do you think it was a good time for me to be pregnant?” she asked me seriously. “Owen wasn’t planned…It just sort of, happened….And then Jimmy passed away…and I had no choice but to be a mother on my own.”
“It’s different,” I tried weakly. “You’re maternal. You’re…motherly.”
She smiled, “So are you.”
I laughed sarcastically, “Oh, yes. I just exude warmth.”
“You don’t have to be sweet to be a good mother, Blair,” she informed me. “Here’s the cool thing about our lives…I already know what you’ll be like as a mother because of the way you are as a godmother.”
“That’s different,” I said again with a groan. “That’s Owen.”
She giggled, “Yeah, it is different. But not in the way you’re convincing yourself it is…However much love you have for Owen, which I know is astronomical…multiply it by a billion. That’s how you’ll feel the second you look down into your baby’s eyes.”
She was speaking from experience, I knew. I hadn’t forgotten her nervousness or her resilience to actually having the kid. I’d always assumed that mothers were ecstatic to learn they were carrying their children…But between Lauren and I, it just didn’t seem to be the case.
I wished that I could ask my mother. It was one of those few times where I desperately longed to hear her voice. I wanted to ask her questions…I wanted to know if she’d been excited about me—or if she’d been terrified like I was. But I’d never know. I could never ask. This only pained me more.
“You are strong,” Lauren told me. “You are caring and kind and generous…You are funny and protective…You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever known. I mean it. That baby in there,” she said, pointing down at my hidden stomach, “just won the lottery, Blair. Because they’re going to have the most incredible mother.”
I felt my eyes welling up, which I decided I could now blame on the hormones. No way was I weak ass bitch. I could handle the sentimental shit—but I was bawling my eyes out…so maybe I couldn’t.
“I know that you think a baby means giving up your life,” Lauren said knowingly, reading my mind, “but that isn’t how it works. You’re just starting a new life. And I know you’ll find a way to have exactly what you want; you always do.”
“I’m really scared,” I confessed weakly, tightening my grip on my friend’s hand like she might somehow save me.
She smiled sympathetically, “I know. It’s scary! Babies are so scary! I was terrified to have Owen…You know that. The closer is got to baby time, the more terrified I became.”
I listened intently, blocking out the nagging voice in the back of my head that was screaming that I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I needed to hear that I could do it. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone.
“But Owen is, hands down, the best thing in my life,” she told me fondly. “He giggles and my heart literally explodes…He’s a reason to get out of bed. He’s my reason for living. And your baby will be just the same for you…You wanted purpose in life, Blair. Here it is. What are you going to do with it?”
“I’m a fucking mess, Lauren,” I reminded her quietly.
She nodded, “That you are. But you’re my favourite mess.”
“That doesn’t change anything.”
“Do you remember when Jimmy died and you came over that one day…” she trailed off for a second, grimacing at her own memory. “And you found me in the bathroom…”
I bit deep into my lip, “Yes, I remember.”
“Good,” she laughed nervously, “I really didn’t want to have to recant the whole thing…Anyway…It got bad for a while. I lost absolutely all will to live. I didn’t care about the baby in my belly, I didn’t care about my life…I just wanted to be with Jimmy.”
I nodded grimly, my familiar urges flaring up with the recognition.
“But I fought to, at the very least, get Owen out and into the world…And, I swear to god, Blair…my whole life changed in an instant. Everything that I’d been longing for, was right there in front of me…Owen saved me. And I know you shouldn’t put pressure onto a baby like that, but I promise this baby will save you, too.”
There was that weeping again. This time, though, Lauren wept too. She looked ultimately happier than I was feeling—but then, she wasn’t the one with the unplanned fetus this time.
“Do you really think I can do this?” I asked her quietly. “You’re a single mom…tell me the truth, is it hard on your own?”
She twisted her face in confusion, “Blair…You wouldn’t be alone. Brian—”
“Tours,” I finished for her. “A lot.”
“Look,” I sighed, “I don’t want to be delusional. I’m not criticizing Bri or comparing him to an absentee parent…but the reality of the situation is that one of us is going to have to sacrifice our careers for a while, and I can’t ask that of Brian. He’s lost too much already…and he doesn’t make the milk. So.”
To my relief, we both laughed at my little half-joke.
“I’m not alone,” she finally answered. “I have all of you. You especially. You’ve been such a help…and I’ll happily be returning the favor. We can have little baby dates and we can raise our boys together…Oh my god, Blair. You have to have a boy! They can be besties like Brian and Jimmy! Oh my god!”
I laughed lightly, pulling my hand from her to grip it around the hot coffee that had been neglected up until that point, “I don’t know how much of a say I get in that…but I’ll see what I can do.”
“A girl would be sweet though,” Lauren gushed. “Especially if she got your killer green eyes. Oh my god. She’d be the most beautiful little angel! With Brian’s cheekbones…heartkiller.”
“Lauren,” I chuckled. “Stop.”
“This is real,” she informed me. “Am I allowed to be excited? I need to be excited.”
I smirked, “You can be excited for the both of us.”
“Blair,” she insisted sternly. “That’s a mini Brian in there. That’s a piece of each of you mixed into one little miracle. You need to be excited.”
“I need to tell Brian,” I said nervously. “Maybe then I’ll be excited…Maybe.”
“Oh my god,” she gushed, bouncing in her seat. “He’s going to be so pumped!”
I hoped that was true. He also hadn’t planned on a baby for the foreseeable future…and I was about to derail that version of our life we’d been imagining.
“Blair,” she grinned from ear to ear. “You guys are going to have a baby!”
I let Lauren do her stupid little happy dance, regaling in the fact that she wouldn’t be the only parent in our group anymore. I liked the idea of raising a kid alongside Lauren and Owen. Her happiness melted the thaw in my heart…and for a second I felt a tiny tinge of excitement. Maybe she was right, maybe I wouldn’t be alone.
As my hand found my stomach once more, I realized I already wasn’t alone.
And I never would be again.