R's day is Friday but I have to work that day and then we have some houseguests arriving in the evening, so...
I guess that says it all right there. Work and houseguests.
After four years, August 26 has been sucked back into the amorphous blob of ordinary days.
I'd like to think that my co-workers remember her and that my houseguests still care but that would be unrealistic. Even amongst the other members of this club, no one can remember all of the details about someone else's baby--wrong dates, genders, names.
Here, however, there's always respect. There is always understanding.
Your friends and family who haven't lost a baby think that imagining is the same thing as knowing but, it's not. There's nothing theoretical about R's death or the deaths of any of these other babies. This ain't no thrill ride. We aren't standing at the edge of the cliff looking down and wondering how it would feel to fall into space. We aren't clinging to the side, thanking our lucky stars for the near miss and promising to be better people in the future. We have already fallen and are grappling our broken way back up to the top. The brokenness is unappealing. If you've only had to wonder what it feels like, you can still imagine that the experience is at least somewhat beautiful or rewarding. It's better to wonder how it feels than to have someone tell you that it's a neverending festival of suck. Yeah. No one wants to hear that.
This doesn't mean that friendship and hospitality are out of the question but, you know, it takes some concentration and lowered expectations. It requires gaining some comfort with extended, uncomfortable silences. It requires forgiveness.
Forgiving is the gold standard, isn't it? Have you forgiven yourself yet? I'm not sure that I have. It's no small thing, forgiving. I'll likely work at it the rest of my life. But, I know that it's where I'm headed. It has to be. And, if I can forgive myself for letting R die, if I can forgive myself for all of the envy and anger in my heart, I can forgive my friends for forgetting her. I can forgive them for not understanding. I can even forgive them for not trying to understand.
When R died, it was almost like a new version of my self was born, a grasping, needy, undisciplined little person. Sound familiar?
How would I want to raise R if she were still here? Would I teach her to be bitter and self-concerned? Would I try to teach her patience and understanding, the discipline of kindness and forgiveness?
It's sort of an invalid question. If she had lived I'd still be skipping down the primrose path, gloriously ignorant of loss and misery. No one, including me, would expect me to learn a damn thing from the experience. But that isn't what happened. She died and took a good share of what I believed to be true with her. For four years I've been working on gathering new truths.
I'll keep it small this week. Small, simple truths for her short life. She's gone and I miss her and I love her.