This post is a bit different, but then again, there are many types of journeys in life.
I’m a reader. Books definitely shaped my life. I recently found out that Ernest Hemmingway won a competition to write the saddest story possible using the fewest words. The story is as follows: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” This brought to mind something that has been close to my heart for the past year.
When I was a few months pregnant, a friend of mine announced that she too, was expecting. I was so excited to share this journey with her! Being about six weeks further along, I could give her the heads up on what to expect from cravings, food aversions (so many food aversions!), sore hips/back/feet, heartburn, and all the other fun stuff that pregnancy brings.
We bonded and supported each other. We attended a baby and family fair together. We went to each other’s baby showers, radiantly glowing in our respective happiness and excitement. I remember, quite clearly at her baby shower, being surrounded by family and friends, how palpable the sheer joy was. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s one of those memories where everything about it is happy.
We shared a lot of similarities. This was a first baby for both of us. First grandchild for all sets of grandparents. Heck, our husbands even work for the same company! And, though I didn’t find out until Little Man was born, we both had a boy. So, when my friend let me know her labor would be induced, I was there to let her know what to expect. When I found out she also had an emergency C-section, I commiserated and encouraged her, having undergone the same procedure.
When she told me her son was in the NICU, my heart skipped a beat. This was a path I had not taken. I offered my support as best as I could. I prayed for a good outcome. But then the unthinkable happened: Three days on this earth was all that was given to my friends precious boy. I cannot fathom the range of emotions she and her husband went through. If you’ve never attended a funeral for a baby (and I hope with my whole heart that you never need to), it’s beyond heartbreaking. I was such a wreck that another attendee tried to comfort ME.
As the days and weeks passed, I kept that little boy close to my heart. Every time I found myself getting frustrated, I would think of him. (And for a new parent, that’s quite often.) On nights when I would be losing sleep because of a hungry or fussy baby, I would think of all those parents out there losing sleep because of grief, wishing they were holding their baby. I would hold Little Man tighter and rock him to sleep with newfound patience.
On days when I heard an unprecedented amount of screaming (seemingly for no reason), I would stop and be thankful for the healthy set of lungs (and wide vocal range!) my vivacious baby owned. And on the super clingy days, when my arms became sore from toting around a 7kg squirmy sack of flour, I thought of the moms whose arms ached with emptiness. I came to see the silver lining in just about every situation.
One of my favorite books I found is by Nancy Tillman entitled “Wherever you are, my love will find you.” I still have a hard time reading it without tearing up. The opening line of “I wanted you more than you ever will know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go”, pulls at my heartstrings. Every time I read it to Little Man, it feels like I’m actually reading to two babies. Because I cannot imagine a baby who was wanted more than my friends little boy.
This week is my friends sons first birthday. I wanted to write this post in honor of him. Not simply in memory of him, but as a tribute and a thank you. Thank you for helping me to be patient when I need it the most. Thank you for letting me see the small things, the things I know will make the biggest difference in the long run. Thank you for reminding me to always be present so I can appreciate every moment. Thank you for helping me to love my son more than I thought possible. More than I would have had you not been born.
“You are my angel, my darling, my star…and my love will find you wherever you are.”
You see, little one, you make a difference everyday. A very important difference. And for that, I will always be thankful for you and your amazing parents. Happy birthday, sweet boy.