Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!
A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. It all started with a birthday invitation: Cassie's Turning One!
Flashback: once upon a time, I had two prego buddies: N and C. Life was just grand, with our bellies burgeoning in sync, our babies kicking, our petite enfants due the exact same week in October 2007. Prego massages together, excited discussions about how COOL it was going to be to raise our kids in unison! Ah, glorious life.
Then along came my Ultimate Shitty Event. N and C went on to have their babies not long thereafter, a boy and a girl respectively. This yanked my heart in a million different directions. Dominic and Cassie were the names of these delightful children, who, in another life, could have been Zach's best buddies growing up. Dominic, his partner in bug-killing crime. Maybe his first experimental gay lover in high school. Cassie, the girl who would teach him to stick gum under the kitchen table. Or maybe be his future girlfriend.
With C and her daughter, I was able to shakily and urgently continue a friendship. But with N and Dominic, the pain was too visceral, the sight of her beautiful son growing and changing and looking exactly like what Zach might look like, the mirror image of my own lost life everytime I saw her, was too much. So self-preservation kicked in, and I stopped returning her phone calls.
Fast forward to the future, just a few weeks ago: Cassie's Turning One! A birthday invitation. And yes, N and baby Dominic, whom I hadn't seen in six months, were going to be there too. I instinctively said "no," of course, because don't people like me have an eternal excuse to avoid potentially hurtful situtations? Baby-saturated situations? Friends with babies? Flushed prego mommies? Doesn't the world forgive us forever for protecting ourselves, clinging to our fears of hurt and loss? Us poor women who want something so freakin' bad and don't get it? Or maybe can't ever get it?
The answer, I discovered, is NO.
C asked why I wasn't coming, and I told her. I told her she knew how much it hurt to be around N and Dominic, not to mention all those other babies that would surely be there. Nothing against Cassie or anything, she's cute and all, but gotta look out for myself.
To my utter shock, C's response was unlike anything anyone had EVER dared to say to me before: "I try to understand, but sometimes I just want to be like, COME ON!" she said. How will I know I can't be around N and Dominic if I don't bother trying? Can't I just go, to celebrate C and her child? To be a part of her life like all of C's other friends? All of this came out. In a tough-love kind of way.
It stung to hear it, this subliminal suggestion that it was time for me to pull my head out of my arse and get with the program. Time to shed my tired fears that I've been clinging to, leaning on as a crutch for the past year, fear of any event that might trigger me to feel a stabbing sense of loss. It's been so easy to just refuse to be around babies, refuse to engage with them, because I know I'm allowed to be that way. I'm the one that lost the damn baby, after all.
But, after a roller coaster day of looking up at the starry sky and peering deep into my soul and brushing the dust off Zach's framed pictures, I realized: C was right. It WAS time for me to return, finally, to meet my ever-supportive friends halfway, return to their lives, and celebrate the maddeningly beautiful kids they brought into the world. Time to give back, after so much taking and needing this past year. Time to be there on a day that was really important to C and Cassie, and push aside my own hang-ups. Time to rise higher than this, strive to be more of the friend I used to be and am capable of being, and find that balance between holding on to my son's memory and reengaging with the universe.
So I did. I told her I'd go, but reserved the right to do a couple of whiskey shots beforehand to lighten the blow to my ego, and she laughed and said okay. I didn't do the shots, but went with my head on straight, and guess what: it was fine. Not just fine, but great. I bonded with N again and reveled in the baby goodness, didn't feel resentful or writhe around in self-pity like I thought I would. It was like I had shed this big heavy weight off my brain and heart and soul.
Oh, and C made this AWESOME cake with a pile of cupcakes on top of the cake. Who knew such a thing was possible!