I have a friend who I have been thinking a lot about lately. I'm not sure why she has been so prominent in my thoughts recently, but she has. This friend is a few months out from her loss, a dear baby boy who died at 17 weeks gestation. And do you know what I've been thinking about? I've been thinking about how she is going about her days with a smile and laugh and working hard to enjoy her three living boys, her wonderful husband, and her supportive homeschooling community. I've been thinking that I know what she is going through, as she goes through the motions, a few months out, when people around her no longer mention her loss. The people who love her so much don't talk about it because there isn't anything left to say. They did all the right things; brought the meals, helped with the memorial...and now there is nothing left. Obviously they would be there for her if she needed it, but no longer do they expect that this missing baby will be a part of the conversation. No longer is the missing one part of their every thought. But he is still a part of her every thought. This, I know. And I need to be clear--these friends of hers are not, in anyway, being mean or cruel or thoughtless for not mentioning him. They truly, truly aren't. Every single one of them (myself included) would drop everything and come running if she were to ask...but she has mostly stopped asking. Because there is nothing anyone can do to help her right now.
And so she goes about her day with this ball and chain clamped to her heart. Can you see it? And while in the beginning people were lining up outside her door with offers to help carry it, time has gone on and life is moving forward. People don't mean to, but they have to put it down to do their own heavy lifting. Soccer practice, a dentist appointment, a sick child, a husband needing clean socks.... Before you know it, my friend is left holding this weight by herself. And again, none of us who have gone through this fault anyone for leaving us holding it. It is ours to carry and the last thing we want you to do is take it away from us. But, my friend, I know that sigh. The one that escapes you as your living children hustle out the door to enjoy the first day of spring and you are alone in the house for a brief moment of quiet. Smiling at those you pass, you don't talk about it, but I know that you know that it is there. Getting kids through the grocery store, cheering them on at a game, helping with schoolwork...all these things take priority and you have become skilled at carrying this weight without complaint, without expecting help. It is, after all, yours to carry.
I don't know why I'm writing this right now. I don't know why I have been thinking about this so much. I guess it is because I want her to know that I see it--I see that heavy weight she is carrying so carefully through her day and I want her to know I know exactly how it feels. I know what it takes to breathe deeply, pick up that weight and start your day. I know what it is like to grab a few precious seconds in a shower to simply cry at the huge unfairness of the universe and then get out and love your living children because they are there for you to love. I know what it means to have someone ask, "How many kids do you have?" and feel like you've just been kicked in the gut. I know how much that, even now, you would love a day to simply cry. I know what you carry, my friend, and I guess I just wanted to tell you that.
*sorry for the repetitiveness of this post...it really is just a ramble! And, my friend who knows who she is, if you would rather I take this down, let me know!