God clearly thinks I'm much stronger than I do.
I was at a wedding shower for one of my oldest and dearest friends yesterday, and who does God decide to plop down next to me while we're waiting for the festivities to begin? A doula.
A DOULA, for God's sake!! And a chatty one at that, who'd just been at a birth on Friday and was exhausted, elated and very eager to talk about her experience.
I wasn't bothered by the birth chatter as much as I was panicked by the thought that I was sandwiched between the doula and women with children, and figured it was only a matter of time before someone asked me the dreaded question.
Thankfully it never came because I hadn't decided how to answer. I've learned there's no better way to bring down a party then to start waxing poetic about your dead baby, but the more time passes, the more reluctant I am to deny his existence. As doula rattled on about her job, I sat there hearing about 60% of what she was saying as I desperately tried to figure out what way I was going to go. Deny Thomas or sadden a group of happy women who were there to celebrate my friend's upcoming wedding? Tough call.
Thank God no one asked. I was leaning towards telling them I once had a beautiful little boy, and it would have been a shame because it really was a great party. Much love, good food and fantastic people. Even chatty doula.
As the afternoon passed by in a haze of delicious treats, iced tea, laughter and pretty wrapping paper, I started to realize how different I feel now - how much sorrow has altered who I am. It's not all bad - I think I'm a kinder person and certainly more compassionate than I was before Thomas - those are very good things. But I've also lost some beautiful things. Like my ability to smile carefree smiles full of promise.
One of the guests, a young and strikingly beautiful new bride who my friend used to babysit, had that look about her. I don't know anything about her - maybe she's had sorrows that she's just able to hide really well - but she was like a fresh spring breeze. Her laughter came easily, as did her smiles. She spoke with joy and sweetness and the hope of someone untouched by life's cruelties and tragedies.
And I envied her. I know too much to ever be that fresh spring breeze bringing joy and light to a Sunday afternoon garden party.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't think I'm a person of less value because I grieve - that I'm worthless because I'm scarred by pain. There's certainly a need for people who have an intimate knowledge of sorrow because we can bring comfort to others in a way that fresh spring breezes simply can't. I've had so many people unburden themselves to me since I lost Thomas, because they know that their pain will find company with mine and be safe there. They know I'll understand.
But fresh spring breezes are just so much more welcome in this world, aren't they? God, I could hardly take my eyes off her.
I would never try to change who I am. I am the person my experiences have made me. I've fought hard to make good come from the sorrow and I feel blessed to have learned so much from my boy.
But every now and then it would be nice to feel that peaceful, carefree energy flowing from me too.
It's been a while.