Two years ago today – Valentine’s Day 2012 was a bittersweet day. Ten days prior we said goodbye to our sweet babies. Three days prior we had their memorial service. To say I wasn’t in a celebratory mood was an understatement. Our friends from church were getting together for a couples’ night out at one of our favorite restaurants and we were invited. These friends that felt like family. These friends who helped ensure our memorial service was perfectly prepared. These friends who had planned baby showers and then cancelled them upon my request. Who delivered care packages and surrounded us with comfort during a time when that seemed like a foreign word.
I remember digging through my drawers trying to find something to wear. Something that made me feel like me again. The old me. The me who enjoyed dinner parties and drinks with friends. The me who didn’t have five dead babies. I didn’t realize then that no matter how hard I tried to find her – she had forever changed.
Two weeks prior I was so proud of the weight I had gained. I gained it for my babies. I dedicated my days to filling my body with nutrition and calories to make strong bodies for the precious lives I carried. Now it was just fat. A reminder of what I didn’t have. I pulled on the one nice pair of maternity jeans I owned. Maternity jeans. Those are for women who are pregnant. A cruel reminder that I wasn’t. I found a soft sweater that my friend Natalie gave me. I remember always being so cold. I was used to sharing my tummy with three, warm little ones.
I sat at the table and felt like I was most positively ruining any joy that my friends would have had. I felt like a burden … not because of anything anyone there did or didn’t do/say … simply because I felt it was unfair to expect these wonderful friends to give even more of themselves for my sake that night. I felt like the elephant in the room. But I was there. I was proud of that somehow too.
I practiced living. I tried smiling. I talked about the weather. I asked how others were doing. I tried to respond genuinely when asked how I was doing. I tried. I practiced living among people who made that a safe place for me.
Two years later it’s hard for me to realize how much true joy I have in my life. There were days I was sure it would never come. Despite the love I knew had multiplied in my heart with the birth of my children, grief was delivered that day as well. Grief that overshadowed that love too many days to count. The comparative today is bittersweet. Lunch with my husband. A butterfly balloon and treat bag for my beautiful Nora. Smiles. Love – for all I have and for all I’ve had – for hope – for the new me regardless of how I got here.
I’m thankful for the love my friends showed me on a day when I had a hard time finding it on my own.