Monday, November 8, 2010
The Missing Piece
As we're walking out of the Haymarket, a tiny, dark, hole-in-the-wall coffee shop on Main St in Northampton, Jenni poses a question I've never thought of before, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.
"So who's your group of peers?" she asks.
"You support all these people. But who supports you?"
This gives me pause. I'm on the stairs, on my way up, and I begin to speak, but stop.
I feel so well supported. There's everyone in the group, there's the loyal readers of the blog, there are close and wonderful friends who love me and hold Charlotte so dear.
"I was thinking about it," she continued, "I don't know anyone else who's 7 and a half years out."
Come to think of it, neither do I.
I don't feel unsupported, I don't feel like an island. But when I break it down to that, it's really true. I don't know anyone else who is just where I am. And when I have a night where the three living kids are running me ragged, I don't know anyone else with three living kids and an almost eight year loss under her pillow who I can call and cry to. There isn't anyone who ever puts her arm around my shoulder and knows what it's really like to have these three kids plus one more, not somebody who actually knows. I think I miss that person in my life. I just hadn't realized it.
And while thinking about this could seem like a bit of a downer, or maybe nearly alarming, for me it came almost as relief. It gave some real structure to the feeling I get sometimes, late at night, when everyone else is asleep. Perhaps I am leaning over my computer, trying to draft a letter to the director of the childbirth center, or maybe I'm e-mailing a newly bereaved mom and trying to think of just what to say. It's always late, the packed lunches are in the fridge, the house is almost clean, and the kids are happy and dreaming. I've taken time to read to them, to scratch their backs, to sing to them, to lie with them. Meanwhile the meeting for tomorrow night is planned, I've sent out the reminders, and I need to get on the website and update something. The next conference in the works, and the volunteer project for the nursery school is halfway done. I have plans to go into Liam's school tomorrow to help with writing workshop, and my friend's child will come over in the afternoon so she can go to the doctor. As the minutes tick by, and the caring-for-others continues, I have moments, sometimes, where I do what all moms do: I wilt, I fall, I wither, and I cry: why doesn't anyone ever care for me? I just want someone to take care of me. I am tired, weary, bone tired, of caring for others, of giving my time, of running around in circles over and over and over again. I want somebody to do something for me.
This is selfish, greedy, wretched, I accuse myself.
Because what in life brings me the MOST satisfaction?
(a question that need not be answered, I pray)
And I think of all the people, the big, huge circle of amazing babylost people in this valley that I have discovered, and they DO hold me up, but they don't know it. And they are not my peers. But I think that sometimes, that is just what I wish I had. I wish I had someone who was where I was, who could relate to the vague distance and alarming normalcy of my life; who could understand the random tears and even laughter over the other kids lighting the memory candle at dinner, who could be part of the wrath of the overtired mother and the overtaxed heart when the anniversary time rolls around.
I have survived without her this long; and I will continue to. But knowing she is missing from my life gives me a little pause to take a breath and say, it's hard to do it without her, and I feel almost braver for it.