If you had had a different chromosome, it would have been “the best option”, you’re told.
You need to sit down because it knocks the life-breath out of you. At first it feels like that shaky realization that you narrowly missed a car accident, but then the pain radiates much, much deeper.
You stumbled upon this conversation and you wish you never had. One moment you’re asking “what’s an amniocentesis?” and the next you’re bowled over with feelings of vulnerability.
Your mom was considered a “late-in-life” pregnancy, especially for the 1980s, and well, chances of conditions like that go up with the age of the mother. That’s why they had the contingency plan.
The contingency plan of taking your life.
It wouldn’t really have been you, a parent says, but that settles wrong in your soul. No, it would have been you no matter how many 21st chromosomes you had.
The fog dissipates a little and you realize that they are standing by their assertion. You realize that they will never see it from your perspective. You realize that life will go on; you will sleep under this roof and laugh over dinner with two of your favorite people in the world who almost killed you.
And to be honest, that’s how it feels. No euphemism or verbal evasion can change the fact that a few strands of protein were all that stopped your parents from willingly putting you to death.
Even ten years after this conversation, you won’t know what to do with that knowledge.