On Monday I had my 2nd run in with someone-who-did-not-know. They are few, but they exist. This time it was a casual friend who substitute teaches at my school occasionally. I hadn’t seen her since I was 8 or 9 months pregnant. She had left a baby gift on my porch a week or two before we lost Luke. It was wine and diapers. I had not known what to do as far as thanking her but also telling her the news, so I hadn’t done anything. I was just waiting to run into her.
I was sitting in the teacher’s lounge eating lunch and she walked in. My brain went “uh oh” but I put on a smile and joked with her about what she was doing there. We made brief chit chat. Then she excitedly asked, “How’s the baby?!” There was a long, awkward pause and I said though immediate tears, “I lost him”. She gasped and looked shocked, then began to cry too. It is nice to be reminded that what happened IS shocking. It is not what anyone else expected either. It is my reality now, but it is not normal. I didn’t get to see most people’s initial reaction to our news, since it was mostly given by others or via a group email from me. It’s nice to see the shock on someone besides myself. I find that validating somehow. It also stabs my heart with a little glimpse of what my life could be like if my path had not taken such a sudden turn. I so wish that I could respond with joyful, funny stories about Luke and what he was up to. I wish I was running into people in the grocery store who were so excited to get a first peek at him in his little carrier on top of the cart. I loved envisioning that.
It opened a discussion. The teacher across the table also began to cry and told me of her loss of a baby at 4 months between her two children. We all had a good dialogue. After school, the sub teacher came by and hugged me for several minutes and cried with me again. She asked to see Luke’s pictures. I appreciated it so much. It continues to highlight for me how differently people respond to things like this. A girl who I would consider a much closer friend was also sitting across the lunch table during all of this, but said nothing. I was one of the first people she told about her separation from her husband and we have shared many very personal conversations, but she hasn’t come to see Luke’s pictures and doesn’t talk to me about him. Yet, this woman I rarely see cried with me and went out of her way to acknowledge my baby. It’s weird how those you think will give you the reactions you want sometimes don’t and others you don’t expect anything from give so much comfort. I still don’t really understand this, but I guess it has something to do with people’s comfort level with death and grief?
So far, 15 people from work have asked to see Luke’s pictures. I am thankful for each one. I love being able to show off my cute baby and to have his existence acknowledged. Most people have cried when they see him. I often cry with them, but not always. It’s a weird thing to pause from work and have such an emotional moment. Sometimes I just can’t switch gears like that or I’m dry of tears from already crying so much. I’m working up the courage to possibly put a link to his pictures on facebook. Is this crazy? I expect that doing so will again bring comfort from some I don’t expect it from and will disappoint me with others who won’t have the time or the courage to look at him. I think I may be slightly obsessing with wanting people to see and acknowledge my baby. I just want to get to show him off at least once to everyone. I want to prove his existence. Sometimes I feel like life has just reverted back to what it was before I got pregnant and that I made the whole thing up. At least I know God sees him and not only does God acknowledge him, but Luke is in His amazing presence, feeling safe and content.