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  • I lay in a pool of blood, inert. I thought I was dying, but when they came to get me, I fought like a wildcat. Finally, they threatened to put me in a straightjacket. There were more of them than there were of me. I stopped fighting and they lifted me onto a stretcher and carried me away.

    They asked who my parents were and I said, no parents. That was a lie, but my father had disowned me and we weren’t speaking. I said I had no money, which was true. They put me in the charity ward at Bellevue. I had had a miscarriage and was so despondent I wanted to die.

    A nurse could barely fit between the beds in the warehouse-like charity ward where hundreds of women and I lay. (Apparently, they didn’t believe in the germ theory of disease). It was November, 1965. I was 19 years old.

    The woman in the bed next to me died. She lay staring at the ceiling for hours. Finally, a nurse closed her eyes and pulled a sheet over her face. She lay there beside me with her nose pushing up the sheet until I decided I did not want to die, there, nameless, in that lonely, overcrowded ward.

    Okay, I'll live, I told myself, and my friends came and donated blood so that I could have a transfusion to make up for the blood I had lost. Peter. Eric. Ken.

    I was four month along, but the baby had died earlier and started to be reabsorbed. I had hated her, and wept at the thought. I had loved her, and had named her Gina Maria. Suddenly, she was gone.

    Now, years and years later, my parents are gone, too. I never told them about their lost grandchild. They too had been lost to me, at the time. When I found them again, I did not want to break their hearts. Instead, I half-drown in a flood of tears.
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