We love our next door neighbours - they're the friendly, down to earth kind of people you always hope you'll somehow be lucky enough to live next door to. We've been to each others houses for dinner, we've played with their dog in the middle of a snowstorm while pretending to shovel the snow, we've stood for hours on the driveway talking - the wife and I even went to an open house next to theirs to scope the place out. No one we know is thinking of moving into the neighbourhood - she and I were just too nosy to let the opportunity of seeing the inside of a neighbour's house pass. We swap movies, gossip, cookies and butter tarts. And when Thomas died we found a tiny bouquet of flowers and a very sweet little note leaning up against our front door.
We're friends. Good friends.
Tonight we all went out for dinner. It was sort of an after-the-holidays get together in celebration of nothing. Or so we thought. Mid way through the dinner they nervously blurted out that they're 17 weeks pregnant.
And that's the moment I clicked onto autopilot, a stupid grin plastered on my much-too-happy looking face. I wanted to get up and leave - cry, scream, SOMETHING - but I smiled my stupid smile, congratulated them and asked all the right questions instead.
I truly love these people and, as My Beloved said, I can't think of nicer people for this to happen to. Except maybe us.
When we got home I told him how sad it made me that they were so nervous about telling us. I'm sure this has been preying on their minds - wondering how to tell the sad, childless couple next door that they'll be bringing home a tiny bundle in June. I'm sure they were afraid of our immediate reactions and, perhaps, even more afraid of the long-term implications of their joy living so close to our sorrow.
But everything will be fine. I'll watch her belly grow and feel the sting of my loss with each glance, but I will never let her know. Neither of us will. This is the way it is for us now, and it's the way it always will be. It can't be any other way.
We are happy for them - just as we're happy for all our friends who have conceived and, in some cases, given birth since Thomas died. But it doesn't change the fact that every announcement feels like a knife to the heart. It doesn't change the fact that our boy is dead while their dreams live and grow.
It doesn't change a thing for us.
But at least they bought us dinner.