Sunday, October 5, 2008

Joy is Here

The phone rang as I was making my daughter's birthday cake.
Of course I was feeling emotional with the baking, the decorating. It had been one year, and the birth sat fresh in my mind, the day of labour replaying itself again and again as I watched the numbers on the clock change.
And then, midway through the afternoon, the telephone rang in my silent house.

I answered it, and she was there on the other end.

It was me on the phone, another version of me. She was alone in her house, belly slack, breasts swollen with milk. Photographs of her once-future life surrounded her, black and white and color and still; yet as lifelike as her baby ever had been. She was young, like me, left a childless mother with a heart too huge to know what to do next. I sank into a chair. Words flowed from my mouth like a faucet turned on too quickly; I was at once relieved and in despair to hear the voice of this woman living my same nightmare.

The months have ticked by, and she has watched me, smiling all the while, while I laugh and bathe and feed and care for the two children that have been my new-born hope, who have brought me the most amazing, irreplacable, particular joy while I sit in this place as bereaved mother with delightedly full hands.

Meanwhile hers were empty, and I was aware that seeing mine full brought her hope.

Joy has come.

This afternoon, I walked up the stairs to a hospital room and saw her, lying in a bed with the hospital johnny on, because she had needed a cesarean with her new-born baby, just as I had. The little baby lay across her bare breast, a tiny boy. He looked just like her daughter.

There she was again, another version of me: except this time, I could see on her face the joy, the beautiful, bittersweet, deep, indescribable joy that accompanies the most surreal event of birth after death. Her little baby slept quietly in her arms, unaware of the impact he had just made.

I walked into the room, and I saw her sweet husband first, and then as I rounded the corner I saw her, and I was overcome. I started to cry, and I took off my glasses, and I turned to set them on the table behind me. I started towards her again but I couldn't do it, it was simply too much for me to take in the sight of my dear friend with a baby in her arms and the baby himself all at once. I couldn't do the thing where you cry gently with a sweet look on your face, I needed to crumple and sob because I was so unbelivably happy for them and because seeing the stunned, sanctified expressions on their faces sucked me so fast back in time that I almost lost my balance.

I did it, though. I held on to the arm of the chair and I almost fell onto my dear friend and I hugged her as best I could with the little baby between us, and then I let my eyes fall and I saw his little face. I was crying so distractedly that the tears were falling on them, I almost felt those weren't my tears to be crying but they came anyhow. I know they didn't mind.

I sat with them for an hour and felt this gigantic peace: they had gone from this family that I related to immensely, who I cherished and loved but worried for, and felt protective of, to my equals. Like me, they had ridden around the circle of death and back into life, they had become parents by way of joy, without burying their pain.

My love for them is gigantic.

Photo to come.

7 comments:

Awake said...

that's beautiful. gigantically so.

Rebecca said...

Reading your post, I can almost feel the sensation of being able to breathe again. I mean that in a good way...that there is fear, apprehension, then a tremendous exhalation of joy. I am so happy for them too.

Meg said...

How beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Janya said...

carol,
congrats to your freind and her baby joy!
my stomach just seized at the image of the outpoutring of emotion between you three, locked together in a hopeful, exhaled, joyous embrace. you are so good at love.
janya

Jen said...

This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the joy.

Birdies Mama said...

I LOVE YOU.
my beautiful friend....thank you for all the joy you shared with us, that you inspired us with. I cannot wait to see you again very soon and share our joy with you all the more.

Janya said...

Oh my GOd, you were talking about Erin...YAAAAYYYYY!!!!