Among my favorite things in life is the symbiotic connection between the social identity of a culture and the language that springs from it such that words exist in some dialects to express concepts that are untranslatable except by assembling a mass of clumsy alternatives, which never fully capture their je ne sais quoi. I recently completed mid-quarter progress reports for my 10th graders, many of whom come from Spanish-speaking households and require all comments in Spanish and in English. Having moved to a new building this year, I was adapting to an unfamiliar set of canned comments and positively fell in love with “conscientious and dependable” as a compliment for kids who may not get the highest test grade or dazzle the class with their insights but show up every day and give 100% of themselves to our endeavors. In skimming for the Spanish counterpart, I kept whizzing past its poignantly brief translation, fiable, and I am newly smitten with this tiny word, which represents such a complex and significant virtue–trustworthy as the solid earth, fiable.
I’m also attempting to learn Italian these days ahead of an Easter trip with my husband’s family to ‘the old country,’ and much the same, I’m fascinated with the chameleon-like quality of ciao, a salutation defined by context. It reminds me of the fun I had in France (and B even more so, having few words in his arsenal in the first place) with çava, which, depending on voice inflection, can mean anything from ‘How the hell are ya?’ to ‘Meh, I’m just okay.’ The fluid adaptability of words coming to life inside of human interaction is really beautiful, an electric current that finds conduits and fills spaces where they open and powers connectivity.
As a long-time student of French (like wrote poetry and read a modest children’s novel in this lyrical language of love songs and lullabies) there are words that I’m inclined to lean on sometimes when English falls short of expression. La dernière fois literally translates as ‘the last time,’ but it bears a connotation of punctuated finality that I long for in this moment, especially since this is my second and last claim to la dernière fois: I had my ninth egg retrieval this morning, bearing nine eggs. There’s a sweetness to that synchronicity, actually, as I write it now, but all weekend the promise of “last” seemed to provide the only stitching still holding me together as I dragged myself out of bed at 4am to drive to Jersey for monitoring on Friday, back out at 6am in the rain for monitoring locally on Saturday, and the ultimate hat trick of before-dawn departures this morning for egg retrieval. As I put on the hairnet and booties, as I gritted my teeth through the IV, as I woke up to the pain in my belly and nether regions, as I dreaded the egg count, as I wait for the fertilization report and then the blastocyst report and then the CCS report: la dernière fois.
I want a symbolic moment to commemorate this…accomplishment, to spend tomorrow casting off the leftover bottle of CoQ10 capsules and the extra Gonal pen, the nightstand packed with every syringe and needle head your heart desires. I’m breaking up with my ovaries for good, and I feel like packing their shit and leaving it in a tired old box on the doorstep. It was a bad relationship, rampant with disappointments, miscommunications, dysfunction, the pressure of unattainable expectations, and self-loathing. I can leave them to underachieve in peace now. In fact, I kept thinking (as we drove through two hours of deadlock traffic in Brooklyn) about the passage in Night when Wiesel’s father dies, which, while tragic, means he no longer has to carry the burden of caring for him while fighting for his own survival. He writes,
I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!
Ah, for the love of God, yes! Onward to an exciting new fling with my uterus: first ever FET in less than two months, which has this really neat possibility of actually getting me pregnant.