In light of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan, the remarkable personal story that comprises Fear Itself becomes a cautionary tale.
Unwittingly exposed to low-level radiation in the 1940s, Candida Lawrence has lived courageously with its effects throughout her life. Fear Itself traces her years struggling to have a child and her slow waking to the secrets that governments and institutions withheld from the women of her generation. The task for her—and for women who have shared her experience—has always been to believe herself into wholeness and to survive her losses and her illnesses until there is nothing left to fear. As always, Lawrence’s writing is filled with smart, gentle anger, sweet sadness and the most private sense of what is vital and important.
In Fear Itself, Lawrence’s deeply felt remembrances grant us an honest account of what it is to live in an unstable world. It is a truly personal account that sheds wide light on the world’s ongoing nuclear decisions.
What personal life story could be more timely?
$19.95 | Memoirs Hardcover | 5 x 7-1/4 | 224 pages
Writing “a child” makes me feel frantic. We began trying three years ago. We were happy enough. He, good to his word, was with a design-engineering firm and loving it. I was in school again, able for the first time to attend fulltime without working. We built a house in the hills behind the 60-inch cyclotron. We built a bedroom for the baby. Now I begin to sound soppy, but it wasn’t that way at all. I wanted a baby neutrally, as the next event in life’s program, one I hadn’t designed but did not oppose. My mother-in-law waited. Everyone began waiting, out there, calling to inquire, then not calling.
A year went by and I found myself more interested in my studies, even developing a passion for, of all subjects, political theory, how governments are formed and why, what the nature of the social contract is. In all this theory there was not a word about babies, and women were never mentioned.
The next year, since we were a serious couple, we followed Dr. G.’s advice and studied ovulation times, took my temperature in the morning, went at it conscientiously when it was up a degree. I asked Dr. G. for a physical exam and he sent air through my tubes and told me I had a tipped uterus. He advised standing on my head after intercourse. He asked if my husband would submit to an analysis of his sperm. Of course, why not?
My husband said to me at the dinner table: “Dr. G. says my sperm have low motility. He says they probably can’t make the journey. I should rest more, take vitamins. This may change.” I asked about mumps when he was a child because that seemed simpler, kinder, than mentioning Oak Ridge, cyclotrons, plutonium, “hot” environments, but I knew, almost as though I were inside his brain throwing switches to left or right, the thoughts he was derailing.
I told Molly in her garden while she was plucking dead leaves off a fuchsia. It felt good to be there in the sunshine, just the two of us, my father at work, my younger brother at school. We agreed this was not news to spread around, poor man, perhaps he shouldn’t even have been told. I said “Yes, it was no doubt better when a woman could be called barren.” She said, “Oh dear, that sounds bitter,” and I said no, I didn’t feel bitter, just odd, a bit goofy, as though I weren’t at all sure what I’d do next. Maybe I’d decide to walk from Berkeley to New York by way of Canada with a dog by my side, something like that.