You know the game, Red Rover. It is the kid’s game where you form two opposing lines across an open field, facing one another. Everyone in each line locks arms and takes turns inviting a member of the other team to come over. And the strategy is to catch that person so they will then join your team and your line grows longer and longer while the other team’s line gets shorter and shorter until there is only one person left on that team. Game over.
I’ve been playing my own little game of Red Rover for years now. Only my team consists of all women… women with no children. The other team is a far, far larger team consisting entirely of mommies. Several of the members of my team are single and that’s the only reason they are still on the team. But then there are other players who, like me, have tried to have children. Prayed and begged and pleaded to have children. Some of us have even sought radical medical assistance to have children. Yet we still stand on THIS side of the field.
Over the years my line has gotten dramatically shorter. One by one I have watched as team members get called to the opposite side. Last year I lost another member and the line became shorter again. The really painful part about losing Julie to the other team was that she was a lot like me. She had been trying for years and seeking medical assistance. She too was familiar with the unique combination of hope and heartbreak that repeats over and over in carefully measured 28-day cycles. Because of our shared suffering, Julie was a little bit more valuable to the team as far as I was concerned.
“Red-Rover, Red-Rover let Julie come over!” They chanted. I guess it is her turn. She’s been chosen. Her hand slips from my grasp and I can do nothing but watch the back of her as she races toward the other side with total abandon. They snatch her up in their network of tightly-linked arms, thrilled to have gotten another member. She is welcomed onto the team.
My arm hangs limp at my side, my palm empty until I find another hand to hold. I see her across the width of the field… which oddly becomes wider with each passing year. She has locked arms with them now, and when our eyes meet… she is beaming. I am happy for her, but I will miss my teammate.
I slide over to compensate for the gap that her absence has created and I reluctantly take the hand of the woman now beside me. My line becomes one more person shorter.