Friday, October 1, 2010
The talk, round 9
It happens every time I make a new friend, but there is no rehearsing, really.
Today it was a new friend from Liam's school. I invited her over this morning with her four year old daughter. When I first extended the invitation, I wondered for a few minutes whether any of our mutual, new, friends had mentioned my past to Rachel. I knew there was a chance of this; it has happened before. But this morning, as she pulled up into the downpour and shuffled under her umbrella with her little daughter and into our mudroom, I had forgotten this missing piece.
It wasn't until maybe twenty minutes later, when I was pouring the tea in the kitchen, that I remembered. As I popped my head around the corner to ask her if she took milk in her tea, I saw her standing in my little sunroom, looking around at the things hanging on the walls. Things like the plates that have all the kids' birthdays, and the cross stitch that memorializes Charlotte and her birth date. I had to brace myself, I knew it was coming.
I don't know why I always get so nervous, but I do.
She said, which was sly, I'm not sure exactly what the non profit work that you do is, but I'm guessing it has something to do with loss...
Oh, I said, did someone tell you about Charlotte?
No, she said, I saw the plaque in there, she said, referring to the wallhanging in the living room.
And what did I reply?, I'm asking myself, as I type, and I think it was something like this:
Charlotte was our first baby; she was born a year before Liam and she died at birth from a cord accident. So that was our really sucky start to parenthood... and it was awful... and now I'm an especially happy and grateful mother to have these three living children".
God, I hate it, but I think that's almost exactly what I said, almost closing the door in her face, because I could see the tears welling up in her eyes and I just couldn't take it, it's as if I can't deal with someone else being sad about my loss because it will remind me about how awfully sad my life actually is. (it's so embarrassing to admit this, but I have to, because this is why I blog)
And because I shut the door in her face, by providing her with a tidy, one sentence description which almost implied that I didn't want to talk about it, and reminded her of the happy ending to my story, I never got to really talk about Charlotte. In my desire to help her to not burst into tears in my kitchen I began talking quickly about the conference I'm running next week, and about my work with the hospital that can be so challenging, and how satisfying it can be for me... and I never really told her about my baby girl.
I don't know if I wanted to, then, because I was so caught up in wanting her not to cry over her cup of tea, but I want to now. I want to calmly and coherently tell her the quiet, brief story of Charlotte's life, and remind her of what a miracle this makes Liam. I want to bring to light the fierce love that dictates the act of parenting for me, love that is partially fueled by bereavement and despair. I want to celebrate the four children in my family, because now she knows.
I will follow up on this, I know I will.
I just have to let there be a next time to talk about Charlotte, and I'm good at that.