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.

8 comments:

Gina said...

I know what you mean. I often feel this way when asked, "Is this your first?" I never quite know how to respond and I always hesitate and sometimes I say something, "No, we lost our baby girl when I was almost 20 weeks pregnant. He's our first living child." I don't always and sometimes I wish that I do always say it. I find it tough that some women and men have to live with these feelings while others go on in their happy unknowing bliss.

butterflymom said...

That is such a tough situation...and it seems like it always will be. I sometimes feel like a robot when I share my story, even at support groups. It's easier to get it all out then open the door up for conversation and questions. That's the way I feel, at least. I'm hoping that you get that chance again to share your story with this new friend...and that she is willing to listen and support you with your continued journey through grief and loss. Hugs to you.

csas said...

I KNOW THE WAY YOU FEEL I LOST MY BABY ON FEB 10,2010 AND I STILL FEEL LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY AND I DONT THINK THAT ITS EVER GOING TO GO AWAY. I WAS 32 WEEKS INTO MY THIRD PREGNANCY I HAVE ALWAYS HAD VERY TOUGH PREGNANCIES I HAD 6 MISCARRIAGES BEFORE I COULD HAVE MY FIRST BABY THANK GOD HE IS MY MIRACLE BABY.AND AFTER THAT I HAD MY BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL I THOUGHT THAT I WAS GOING TO HAVE MY FAMILY COMPLETE BUT I WAS VERY WRONG GOD HAD SOME OTHER PLANS FOR ME.TAKE CARE AND TAKE CARE OF YOU LITTLE ONES AND GOD BLESS.

Ya Chun said...

I usually screw it up too. I just get so nervous - like you say.

csas said...

thamks for the poem

Hope's Mama said...

I do the same thing all the time then end up kicking myself for days.
xo

Jen said...

I think it is a gift to learn about Charlotte and be invited to know her story and grieve her and wish she were here. At least, I've always felt it was a gift, to be allowed to witness such depth of love, longing, and remembrance. Maybe your new friend might see this as a gift too? Tears and all?

Laurithree said...

I have a tendancy to launch right into ...but I started this blanket project and we donate blankets and hats in her memory... But I had one mama friend just keep repeating "I'm sorry. I'm sorry..." Until I finally stopped my nervous babbling long enough to hear her and simply said, "Thank you." I think we always feel the need to make the other person at ease after we drop the news on them.