I have had a long standing relationship with DuMaurier. Longer than my marriage, longer than all my present friendships, longer than my relationship with hair colour. DuMaurier, you might say, is one of my oldest companions.
I have been smoking for over half my life. I know, it boggles the mind. Especially because I don’t look like the type of person that smokes. I know I must not look like this person, because frequently people tell me so. In an incredulous tone of voice, with a look of wonder about them, they say “You smoke? I would have never guessed it about you”.
And I’m never quite sure what to tell them. You see, I can’t tell them why I started. I could, I suppose, point to a cousin who smoked. I could perhaps tell them I thought it was cool. I could have pointed to a teacher who assured me I would start. (In grade 6. His confidence was touching). I could point to my mother, who was a smoker for many years.
I could point to all of these things. I could tell you I started because of them. I could place blame, but really, why? The fact remains, I don’t know why I started to smoke.
But, oh, I know why I kept it up. It was my one, tiny rebellion, in a life of conformity. It was my out. A thing I did for me. It was a throw back to, what I jokingly call ‘signs of a misspent youth’, along with my intimate knowledge of the smells of several illicit street drugs, and still early morning air, as you wonder if you will get arrested.
It is my connection with someone I used to be. And I am not that person anymore. I have no desire to be that person. Indeed, I am the person phoning the police at 3 am, knowing full well what those children are doing outside my home. And knowing, that indeed, they are but children, in the bodies of adults, thinking they are adults, with the minds of scared, confused adolescents. It is perhaps a vice that suggests that yes, I survived this too.
And I loved smoking. I loved the act of pulling a cigarette out of a new pack – my constant companion for the next two or so days. I loved lighting cigarettes, waving them around, exhaling, the feel of cigarette smoke entering my lungs. It was a pleasant burn. (The cough and the tightness in my chest each morning seemed but a small price to pay)
And I quit last March. With very little fanfare, and to be honest, very little pain. A few weeks of withdrawal. I quit to move on to another phase in my life – that of parent. I did not want to be that mother who smoked. And I appreciated the freedom, and in an age of $10 a package cigarettes, I appreciated the extra money. In an age where smokers are the very devil themselves, I appreciated the lack of hassle. On minus 40 days, I didn’t mind not being out there. On days when it rained, on blazing hot days, I didn’t mind. The interesting thing was, I didn’t miss it. I had a plan, I was on a roll. I actually quit about 3 months before I had to. Unfortunately, I’m about 3 weeks past when I needed to quit, this time.
I contemplated picking it up again the day I came home from the hospital without Gabriel. But I persevered. I could still see myself as a parent, someday. Perhaps I actually saw myself of a parent, albeit one of an urn.
I managed until the day I met with the Chief of Perinatology, to discuss Gabriel’s pathology report. And I cannot say that she was so cruel, she drove me to it. She was, in fact, compassion itself. I suppose I could point to the onslaught of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the 6 month anniversary, the friend who had the brand new baby. But really, that wasn’t it.
I came out of the Royal Alex, and I lost my perception of being a parent, ever again. I can no longer believe that a baby will emerge from me, other than still, already gone. I cannot believe, in the face of the risk of recurrence, I cannot believe that smoking will matter. What difference can it possibly make if I smoke or not, when my body seems destined to kill my babies? When my pregnancy will be spent waiting for the pre-eclampsia cascade to start again.
I am off the weed again. I already miss it.