I had a no-so-nice moment the other day. One of those ugly, bitter moments that you're generally unwilling to admit to anyone that you have - or that you still have (since some people think those moments of bitter jealousy are horrendous and only acceptable right after a loss).
I opened up a Christmas card from an old friend and two small pictures fell into my lap. One was of her little boy who is, I think, 3 or 4 now. The other was a picture of her new baby girl, just 5 months old.
I've lost touch with this friend for the most part. Our only contact is at Christmastime now, which is sometimes just the way it goes. Lives are busy and move in different directions. It happens, and it's okay.
But I was still kind of stunned to see the pictures. And angry.
I sent her a picture of my Thomas in her Christmas card last year with a little note about what had happened. And then I waited to hear from her. The card I got the other day was the first contact she's made with me since, and in it she chose to put two pictures of her living, breathing, smiling children.
I was livid. I snarled and huffed quietly as My Beloved looked quizzically at me, but I was too ashamed of my instant wrath to tell him everything that was swirling around in my head. So I tucked the pictures back in the card and put it in our card holder. And quietly fumed from afar.
Yesterday I took it back out of the holder and read it again - and took a closer look at the pictures. The message she wrote inside was sweet, and I could tell she worked hard to choose exactly the right words from the millions that probably terrified her with their perceived inappropriateness. She asked me to e-mail her. She said she missed me and wanted to reconnect.
I picked up the picture of her baby girl and turned it over. On the back was her name and her age. I started thinking...
When my friend got the news of my son's death along with his picture in her Christmas card last year, she was about two months pregnant. The shocking reality of infant mortality came screaming into her life when she was in the first few nervous months of a new pregnancy. If she'd contacted me, what would she have said? What would I have said?
She must have been terrified.
The last words in her card were, "I know we are so lucky", in reference to their two beautiful children. The guilt in her words broke my heart.
I hate that things that should be easy are awkward. I hate that my sorrow dampens other people's joy. I hate that tentative hands reaching out to me are tentative. I hate that sometimes those gestures are met with hostility. I hate that my first reaction to the photo of that beautiful little girl was anger. I hate so much that I have that in my heart.
I am ashamed.