Author: classicshe PM
Pairing: Josh-Zoey - AU - Josh & Zoey suffer a lossRated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Josh L. & Zoey B. - Words: 5,253 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 09-10-04 - Status: Complete - id: 2051866
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author: Classic She
Summary: Josh & Zoey suffer a loss. Warning: OC Character Death
Disclaimers: I did not create these characters, Mr. Sorkin did. I take them out to play. I am not legally responsible for the things they choose to do in my little world; they are all adults and are responsible for their own actions
Author's Notes: I originally wrote this for an AU series entitled "You're Still You" posted at That series went in a different direction, so this chapter needed a home of its own. I am posting it here as a stand alone, although I have some ideas for creating an alternate universe of an alternate universe so there may be prequel and sequel to this story, eventually. Maybe.
One of the few advantages of the security concerns surrounding a First Daughter was the necessity of flying in a private jet. Josh was able to ride with Zoey in the SUV directly to the jet on the runway, giving them a semblance of privacy in which to say goodbye. She was loath to leave him, but they needed to maintain their normal schedules.
The whole week had been awkward for them, now that their relationship was public knowledge and People magazine had officially branded them the Nation's Hottest Couple, a role neither relished. Fellow White House staffers who could abstractly conceptualize and accept their relationship were still shocked to see them together in person.
Jed and Abbey desperately tried to be cordial to Josh, but were clearly baffled as how to with deal him in his new role as First Boyfriend.
The couple had little time alone together and Josh dutifully returned to his empty apartment every evening. Their precious times alone were squandered arguing. They had struggled over what to do, and how to break the news to her parents.
He just wanted to tell them, to get it out in the open and move on, but she just wasn't ready.
She was having a hard enough time accepting the fact that she was pregnant and her condition's implications for their future. She was mortified that she was, especially as her parents where still trying to accept their new relationship. She wasn't ready for her mother's lecture about being careless in their practice of birth control, nor her father's on premarital sex. She wasn't ready to make any decisions. Her constant nausea and the need to hide it from her mother's eagle eyes added tension to her visit home.
The expectant parents called a truce and decided to calm down and talk rationally during his trip to Sacramento scheduled for the following week. Hopefully, she would be feeling better by then.
He guided her to her seat, and sweetly kissed her goodbye. She promised to call and let him know when she got safely home. He kissed her one last time and disembarked. He made the driver wait until she was safely in the air before heading back to the White House.
Josh's mind was a million miles away while he was he was ensconced in the staff meeting. In the past, he would have been ribbed for his inattentiveness caused by his newest infatuation. These days, no one dared to. His relationship with his co-workers had changed in subtle ways he couldn't quite put his finger on; he felt as though he no longer had anyone to confide in.
He so needed to talk these issues through with someone; as he didn't quite know how he felt or what to do. He loved Zoey dearly, but dreaded the changes that marriage followed closely by fatherhood would entail. Whenever he thought about it, all he could think of was the logistical problems. Where would they live? What about her schooling? Would anyone take him seriously anymore, or would he only be seen as the President's son-in-law?
Emotionally, he was scared to death. He had never been around babies or children in his life. He knew he could never emulate his own father, he was afraid of failing his children. Josh was a creature of habit - and he just couldn't deal with this.
Zoey's head was pounding, she lay down on the bed, and tried to sleep, but her stomach was flip-flopping, so she headed to the lavatory. Gina got up to assist her, but she waved her off. She vomited, brushed her teeth, and then decided to use the lavatory one more time before she took a nap. Her panties were stained with two small pink spots. She sat back down and stared at them. She could not handle this now.
Gina knocked on the door, asking if she were okay. She put on a pad and went to lie down. She didn't say anything. Spotting could occur around the time her period was normally due, it wasn't much, just two spots, it was nothing to worry about. She was just stressed and needed to relax. She promised herself she would call her OB first thing tomorrow morning, before she headed to her class. She laid down and fell into a deep sleep.
Gina gently shook her awake. It seemed as though she had just laid down and now it was time to land. She groggily asked Gina if she had time to use the lavatory. Gina nodded yes. She made her way there and warily checked her pad. Nothing new. She sighed with relief and noticed her headache was finally gone. She hurried back to her seat and gave Gina a smile.
As much as she missed Josh, she was happy to be heading home. She suddenly realized that she considered Stanford her home, not the White House nor New Hampshire.
The next morning she arose refreshed. She did not feel nauseous and actually enjoyed a large breakfast, perhaps she was moving past her constant nausea towards the always hungry stage of pregnancy which she had believed was an old wife's tale. She giggled as she imagined sending Josh out on midnight searches for pickles and ice cream. She reassured herself that all she needed was get away from the tension that was Washington. She dutifully made her phone call to her OB's service, and immediately received an appointment for a check up later that day. Sometimes the having the name Bartlet was quite handy.
In her second class of the day she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. She left the classroom and raced down the hall to the bathroom. No spots, no nothing. She returned to the room and spent the rest of the day making frequent potty stops to check on herself.
Upon arrival at her OB's office, she was immediately shown to an examination room and was given a thorough exam by Dr. White. The ob could not find a heartbeat, but reassured Zoey that there was nothing to worry about, it was a too soon to find one anyway, and the Doctor hadn't found one in her prior exam. Zoey was reassured that some women spotted throughout their pregnancy. She should just keep an eye on it and call the clinic if they returned.
Dr. White then asked how med school was going. Zoey indicated she loved it. They then discussed handling med school and pregnancy. Zoey pointed out that her mother had done both successfully and was advised by her doctor to take it easy. Dr. White stated that it's not written in stone that she had to be done in five years. If it got to be too much, Zoey was advised to cut back on classes.
The next day she breezed through her classes, and reassured Josh that she felt much better. She laughed as she acquiesced to his demands and handed Gina the phone so he could interrogate Gina as to Zoey's well being. She got home, ate a big dinner, and settled in to study. As she changed for bed, she noticed more spots, a bright red. She put on a pad and went to call her OB. Dr. White reassured her, but scheduled her for an ultrasound the next morning. She debated about calling Josh but didn't want him to worry until she knew something definitive. Zoey went to bed, tossed and turned for hours before she fell asleep. She could feel her body cramping and she denied what she knew was happening.
The next morning the pad was stained bright red. She put a new one on and called Dr. White in a panic, and was told to meet her at the hospital's Woman's Pavilion, to leave immediately and to drink lots of water on her way. She needed a full bladder for the ultrasound. Gina drove her there, a concerned look on her face, as Zoey silently cried. She was hustled through the backdoor, into the ultrasound room, was handed a paper gown and a clipboard full of paperwork to fill out, and was left alone in the silent, sterile room, Gina stood guard outside the door.
The tech came in and helped her onto the examine table. She then carefully turned the monitor away from Zoey's line of sight. The tech asked her to lie still for a moment, Zoey stared at the ceiling while the tech smeared her abdomen with the ice cold jell. The tech tried to talk cheerfully to Zoey, but Zoey ignored her, staring at the ceiling, shivering from the coolness of the room as she braced herself for bad news.
The tech took a long time running the probe over her abdomen, then fiddled with the controls on the machine. The tech excused herself and left the room, returning with yet another tech, who performed the same examination, concern showing on both their faces.
Zoey asked them what was wrong, could they find a heartbeat?
The techs exchanged looks and the older one said, "We just do the tests, we can't interpret them, your doctor will be here in a few minutes.
"What is wrong?" Zoey demanded.
The two looked at each, then at her, obviously afraid to ask the question, finally, the younger one mumbled, "Are you sure you're pregnant?"
"We can't find the baby."
They scurried out of the room to find the doctor, leaving her alone. She suddenly felt an unusual sensation in her belly, one she had never felt before, almost as though her entire insides where trying to slide right out of her. She then had the sudden urge to urinate.
As she stood up to get to the lavatory. a sudden rush of wetness streamed down her legs. She left a bloody trail as she stumbled to the lavatory. She gasped when she saw the small, still fetus in the bloody mess contained in her panties. She sat on the toilet and started sobbing as her cramping increased.
She was alone for an eternity.
All she knew was that she had lost the baby she wasn't sure she had wanted and she was alone.
She couldn't bring herself to picking her baby up. She couldn't move. She couldn't think. She couldn't comprehend what had happened. And she was alone.
The rest was a hazy fog, the doctor found her huddled in the lavatory and helped her back to the exam table as the aides scurried about and cleaned up the mess.
Zoey heard her doctor saying the womb had expelled the tissue during the ultrasound. And asked for permission to examine the tissue to determine what had happened. She wanted to do a D&C to reduce the chance of infection and to ensure all the tissue had passed.
Zoey wasn't really paying attention, all she could feel was numbness, her entire body was numb.
And Dr. White kept talking as she performed the D&C. Zoey could feel the cold medical instruments being inserted into her body, which was racked by convulsive cramps. All the while the doctor explained to her what had happened in a low, soothing voice, using childlike terms,
"When you conceive and a baby is created, it takes half its genes from the sperm and half from the egg that ovulated that month. At the exact time of conception, the cross-over of these genes takes place. Sometimes, for no reason other than bad luck, some information is lost and the pregnancy is designated from that point not to be. It might be that this lost information is not needed for many weeks, and the pregnancy will continue as normal until that time. When the needed information is not there, it is then that the baby dies and you begin to miscarry."
Zoey's brain shouted out - Good God women, I'm in med school, I know that. Her brain was shouting its denials, but her body wasn't cooperating, her head wobbled an affirmative gesture towards the doctor, and the Doctor kept talking, her cadence lulling Zoey.
"Sometimes when this happens, the miscarriage doesn't happen right away. This is called a missed miscarriage and may not be picked up until some weeks later, following a slight loss or period-type pains."
"You didn't miscarry because of something you did or didn't do. Its nature's way making sure that when you do have a baby, it has the best chance for all of its life. And, Zoey, miscarriage does not mean that you won't be able to get pregnant again."
Zoey's brain finally connected with her vocal cords and she managed to ask "Where's Josh? I need Josh."
And Dr. White replied, "Do you mean Joshua Lyman? You have him listed as your significant other and your emergency contact."
"And he was the father?"
"Of course, he is." What did this doctor think - that she's a slut? She was quickly developing an intense dislike for Dr. White and her bedside manner.
"I spoke with his assistant. She indicated that he was at the Capital and that she would find him immediately and have him return the call."
"You didn't tell her what happened?"
"No, just that I'm Dr. White and I needed to speak with Mr. Lyman immediately.".
Dr. White then asked "Should anyone else should be notified?"
Zoey responded, "No, my parent's don't know I'm pregnant. Just Josh."
Dr. White was taken back by Zoey's last statement, and decided to move on to a different matter.
"All right, we'll have our pathologist examine the tissue and then it will be disposed of. Usually we would discharge you, but seeing as how your family isn't here yet, I think we'll move you to a private room. I don't want you to be alone. Or do you want to go home with your agents?"
"No. They protect me, they aren't my nursemaids. Just tell them that I'll be here for awhile."
"I'll stay here with you until you can talk to Mr. Lyman, and then I'll give you a sedative."
Zoey, suddenly realized how the doctor was referring to her baby. "By tissue, do you mean the baby? "
"Yes, Zoey. When a pregnancy ends before 20 weeks, we call the products of conception tissue."
"Wait, by tissue do you mean the baby? It's not tissue, it is my child. Don't do anything with my child until I speak to Joshua. And I'd like to see a priest,"
Leo and Amy had been summoned to the residence, though they had no idea why. Leo was surprised to find his Deputy Chief of Staff in the study with the President and the First Lady, as he was supposed to be on the Hill.
The President glared at the Chiefs of Staff. He was furious and was having a hard time controlling his anger.
"Leo, Amy. Make arrangements for a private jet to take Abbey and Josh to San Francisco, and have transportation waiting at the airport. Clear their calendars for next week. I don't the press to catch wind of this. Thank you." The President snapped the orders.
Josh silently stared out the window, his body rigid with hostility. Abbey was scrutinizing Josh. The tension in the room was palpable
"Sir, do you mind my asking why?"
The President did not answer Leo directly, instead he turned to Josh. Josh and the President exchanged glares, and then Josh shook his head negatively.
Jed sighed and turned to Leo. "It's a private matter, Leo. We want to keep a lid on this one."
Leo was astounded; Josh was calling the shots on whatever the problem was. It had to be about Zoey. And why was the President deferring to with Josh? Leo felt out of place, out of the loop, something which had never happened before in his relationship with the President. The Chiefs of Staff realized that they had been curtly dismissed and left the room with no further explanations.
Two Hours into the flight.
Josh and Abbey sat in acrimonious silence. Finally Josh's anxiety for Zoey overcame his hostility towards Jed and Abbey.
"Abbey" he inquired softly, "will Zoey and I ever be able to have children?"
In her fury at him, Abbey had neglected to consider how Josh might be feeling. This was his child as well and Zoey had been alone. She could feel his anguish. She met his gaze and saw the fear and guilt reflected in the brown orbs.
"Josh. There are a number of problems that can cause a miscarriage. The most common is a chromosomal abnormality where the genetic material from the sperm and egg do not fuse appropriately. It is most commonly a random event. It has no effect on future pregnancies. You can ask to have the fetus tested to determine the cause of the miscarriage; it would be done at your discretion. As a Doctor, I would recommend you do so."
She saw the confused look on his face.
"Josh, Zoey will be able to have children, just not this one."
They receded to a silent truce, each lost in their own thoughts.
Three hours into the flight
Josh mused aloud. "Under Halakhah, you know - Jewish law, life begins at birth, not at conception. A child is not considered a child or alive until birth, so under Jewish law it's not allowed to say Kaddish for a miscarriage. I don't practice, I never thought much about it before. If our baby was never alive, how could it have died?" Josh paused and turned his attention to the First Lady, his face reflecting his tumultuous emotions. "How could it have died, Abbey, when it never had a chance to live?"
"Zoey is Catholic, Josh. We believe that life begins at conception." Abbey placed a hand over Josh's, offering the only comfort she could.
Josh turned back to the window. They silently, each lost in their own anguish, contemplating the philosophical question of the beginning of life.
Four hours into the flight
Abbey finally broached the subject she had been brooding over, how to get Josh to agree to something she knew would bring peace to Zoey. "We don't baptize the dead, but we can have prayers said for the dead and bless the baby. You and Zoey can have the baby buried."
"Do you mean a funeral?"
"No, a funeral Mass is for the burial of baptized persons. But you can have a prayer service and internment. It would be helpful to you and Zoey, it would give you both some closure."
Josh held Abbey's gaze, wondering why people turned to such a dogmatic system for solace. He certainly wasn't finding any succor in his creed. He thought bitterly, "I should have been named Job."
Five hours into the flight
"I'm sorry Abbey." Josh stammered, clearly unsure of himself, a side of Josh Lyman people rarely witnessed. I'm not really up on my Catholicism. Does not being baptized, does that mean the baby's going to be stuck in purgatory forever?"
Abbey laughed softly, "You are asking the wrong person. Jed could go on for hours about the Church's Catechism."
They grinned wryly at each other pleased they wouldn't be subjected to that particular form of purgatory on this flight.
"The unbaptized go to limbo, not purgatory. The Catechism doesn't say unbaptized infants are condemned because they have original sin; it basically says we don't know, but we are confident of God's mercy."
"Well, the Torah rejects the notion of original sin. According to the Torah, a child is born pure, completely free from sin. There is a daily saying, "God, the soul which you have given me is pure. You created it. You fashioned it, Your breathed it into me."
They returned to silence, both feeling an easement of the previous tension.
"Ma-am?" Josh spoke tentatively. "About before, in the Residence. I'm sorry."
"Me too, Josh." Abbey again grasped his hand and they continued to sit that way, providing silent comfort for each other.
Final approach into San Francisco
Abbey returned to the seat beside Josh when the Captain announced their final approach to the airport. He didn't respond to her presence and she gently touched his shoulder. He then turned a pale, tear tracked face toward her and her heart broke.
"Josh, I'm so sorry about all of this." She gathered him into her arms and hugged him tightly. As the wheels connected with the tarmac, Josh and Abbey broke down.
When Josh finally stumbled into her room, Zoey's face told him of her grief. Their baby had died, and once again they were living in a nightmare. The priest who had been sitting with her quietly vacated the chair next to her bed. Josh sat on the bed, and gently gathered her into his arms. Her pent up emotions finally unleashed and she sobbed into the crook of his neck.
Abbey felt terrible, she realized just then that Josh had taken precedence in her baby's life. He would be first from now on.
They consoled each other and faced the pain together, Zoey drew on the loving support of Josh. Many other couples have faced the pain they did, and were allowed to grieve in peace. But the extremely public couple would have to hide their grief.
The priest asked if they cared for the prayers of the church. Josh nodded his assent to the request.
All but Josh make the sign of the cross. The priest began,
"Let us praise the Father of mercies, the God of all consolation. Blessed be God for ever."
They responded:, "Blessed be God for ever."
The priest continued,
"For those who trust in God,
in the pain of sorrow there is consolation,
in the face of despair there is hope,
in the midst of death there is life.
Joshua and Zoey, as we mourn the death of your child,
we place ourselves in the hands of God and ask strength,
for healing, and for love.
Listen to the words of the book of Lamentations:
My soul is deprived of peace,
I have forgotten what happiness is;
I tell myself my future is lost,
all that I hoped for from the Lord.
But I will call this to mind,
as my reason to have hope:
The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,
his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning,
so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord, says my soul;
therefore I will hope in him. "
Lamentations 3:17-18, 21-24
"The Word of the Lord."
Abbey and Zoey responded "Thanks be to God."
The priest continued,
"Father and Creator,
in whom all life and death find meaning,
we bless you at all times,
especially when we have need of your consolation.
Joshua and Zoey entrust to your care a life conceived in love.
May your blessing come upon them now.
Remove all anxiety from their minds
and strengthen this love
so that they may have peace in their hearts and home.
We ask this through Christ our Lord."
Abbey and Zoey responded; "Amen,"
They both made the sign of the cross as the priest concluded the prayer:
"May the almighty and merciful God bless and protect us,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
They concluded, "Amen."
Leo entered the Residence's Sitting Room upon the President's request. He sat down on the sofa next to the chair that Jed was in. Leo has spent the day with a weather eye on CNN, watching for news of some disaster which befell Zoey. It never came. He waited for Jed to say something. A weary looking Jed silently sipped his whiskey, and sighed.
"Leo, I just got off the phone with Abbey. Zoey's okay. They checked her out and took her back to her home. Abbey's going to stay with her till she's back on her feet. Josh is going to stay out there; you know he's scheduled to be in Sacramento all next week."
"Is he going to stick with the itinerary as scheduled?" Leo debated asking the obvious question, but he knew Jed well enough to know to wait till Jed was ready to tell him.
"Yes, then he and Zoey are going to meet us in New Hampshire on Saturday. We need to change my schedule, I'll be spending the weekend there."
"Full staffing, Sir?"
"No, this is a family matter. Just Abbey, the girls and I."
Leo was silent as Jed took another sip of his drink. Jed glanced at him and decided to tell him. Zoey was his goddaughter, and he knew Leo treated Josh as though he were his own son.
"Leo, I lost a grandchild today. Zoey miscarried. I didn't even know my baby girl was pregnant. She was too terrified of us to tell us."
"Josh told us, when he told us Zoey was in the hospital."
"God, Leo. The man loves my daughter. Did I console him? Did I tell him I was sorry he lost his first child?"
"No. I lit into him about his relationship with my daughter . About not telling us. About being too old for her. About having sex with her. About knocking up my baby."
"Leo, my baby was too frightened to tell me. You know, the Doctor called him. She listed him as her emergency contact. She told the doctor not to contact us."
"Have I been that bad of a father? What is she doing with Josh? God, Leo, he was in college when she was born, he's old enough to be her father. Is she using him as the father figure I wasn't?"
Leo thought about his answer while waiting patiently for Jed to finish his tirade, to get the bile out of his system. Jed needed to listen to his response.
"Jed, I'm telling you this as your friend."
I've known Josh since the day he was born. He's a good man. It's just taken him awhile to grow up, longer than most people. Believe me, I've seen him with other women, and I've seen him with her. She's different. He treats her the way his father treated his mother. Jed, he loves her."
"You know, when I convinced him to join the campaign, I told him you were the real thing. Well, now I'm telling you, as far as Zoey is concerned, Joshua Lyman is the real thing."
"Jed, you've got to accept him into your family if you want to keep your family together."
The following Saturday at the cemetery holding centuries of Bartlets
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
...where there is injury, pardon;
...where there is doubt, faith;
...where there is despair, hope;
...where there is darkness, light;
...where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
...to be consoled as to console;
...to be understood as to understand;
...to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
...it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
Jed thanked the priest on behalf of the families. He embraced Josh first, then Zoey. "I love you, baby" Abbey followed suit.
Mrs. Lyman shook the priest's hand and told him "That was beautiful, Father." She hugged Josh and Zoey, then joined hands with Jed and Abbey and the grandparents left the small grave together.
Elizabeth and Ellie silently embraced Josh and Zoey as they turned to walk back to the house.
Josh and Zoey stood by the small grave silently, then clung to each other as they stumbled back towards the limo.
In February, I had suffered a miscarriage. I had believed the event to be resolved on every possible level. But there was deeper spiritual dimension to my pain that lay quiet and untouched until the celebration of All Souls' Day.
That pain had to do with the concreteness of the loss. What happened was not just an event we can abstract by terming it a "miscarriage." It was the death of a very small, very real, very specific person.
And who that was remains a mystery. The question I had asked over and over was not "Why?" but rather, "Who were you?" It was so small, too small to be felt, living within me, closer to me than anyone else, yet I could not answer that question. I hungered for an understanding of who this person was, but such knowledge was beyond my reach. A Mystery.
A friend, upon receiving the news of the miscarriage, wrote. "Just keep believing that someday you will meet your sweet baby in heaven." And I do believe it.
If I had not miscarried, that baby would have been in my arms on All Soul's Day. But it did happen, and there I sat, alone. And then again, maybe not so alone. For on that All Souls' Day I finally came to really know my child - not as a frightening mass of tissue that had passed from my body in pain and sorrow back to the earth, but as a person, a part of our family and of the whole human community.
As I listened to the names read out loud and say those written in the Book of Remembrance, I added one more, one whose name is known only to God.
Someday, I know. Someday.
Taken from "The Soul That Was Within Me" by Amy Welborn, copyright 1998.
Josh attended the All Soul's Day mass with me, he had silently stood by me throughout the entire healing process. When we returned to our empty home, he gave me a small, heavy box. When I opened it, I found a beautiful Waterford crystal holy water font.
"Zoey, I don't want her to be forgotten. That will always be in our home, to help us remember she is always with us."