Dear Baby, Love, Mom. by Chela Tree Novak

NOTE: This piece is by a former student, (hopefully) lifelong friend and (undoubtedly) future superstar/force of nature. The best writing is a mix of truths, symmetries, reflections, and newness. The best writers sift through rivers of shit to find gold that would otherwise be lost to us. “Dear Baby, Love, Mom.” by Chela Tree Novak is all this and more. I could not be more proud of the scale of her courage, the advanced level of her articulacy, and her devotion to her art. Follow her creations at

“Theres a whole lot of singing that’s never gonna be heard, disappearing every day without so much as a word somehow. I think I broke the wings off that little songbird, she’s never gonna fly to the top of the world now.”- Landslide, The Dixie Chicks

I must have apologized to you a hundred times during the hour I sat by myself in that white walled room.
I held you, hands over my stomach, the only way I ever would be able to.
You were only an inch long, but you already had eyelids and a nose, and if your nose was anything like your fathers, I would have loved to drop little kisses on its tip.
Both sides of your brain were growing.
You could have been anything you wanted to be.
You would have had military blood in you, and I would have made sure that you were stronger than me, and to the dismay of your father, I would have made sure you were louder than me, too.
You would have called me mommy, him daddy, and our best friend uncle.
We would have, we could have, made a good family, the four of us with our laughter, faults, and old soul wisdom.

I wished that I relished throwing up after my morning coffee.
I wished I couldn’t sleep because the pain in my back made me dream about your little gloved hands as I pushed you in a stroller down Randolph Street.
I wished that I did not feel an obligation and a responsibility not to have you.
And now, I wish you were still in me, delicately ruining my childish dreams.

I don’t regret the decision that we made.
But when I think about the decisions that you could have made, I regret not permitting you the chance to make them.
You could have gone to Yale, or you could have run off to Europe to pursue some dream that we would support, even if we doubted you.

I swallowed the first pill as fast as I could, before I got the chance to panic and think all of the things that I now can think about.
The physical pain of the next three days, experienced in a codeine haze, took the edge off.
Until now.
I can argue my conflicting emotions both ways.
And both ways, it works.

I don’t know what your voice sounds like, and you don’t either. I don’t know what your skin feels like, and you don’t either.

I wonder whose loss is greater.

I would have been a really good mom, baby, and you would have had the best daddy a child could ever ask for.
You would have been his little girl, or his little soldier.
You would have been the light of my life, and I would have let your light fill me with wonder.

I feel as if I am empty, because I miss the little fingers that I never got to hold.

I know that you don’t know how much I love you.
But I do.

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