Thursday, September 11, 2008

The sound of silence

"Any babies to speak of?" was the last in a series of I-haven't-talked-to-you-in-seven-years questions a newly acquired Facebook friend recently asked. We knew each other when we worked for the same advertising agency a thousand years ago. She found me, friended me and asked me what was new.

In that explicit, gut-churning way that always give me pause while I debate exactly what to say and how to say it.

And think I did. Long and hard. I considered sending her a private message instead of replying to her query on her wall (which is where she posted the questions to me), but finally I decided that if I had living children I wouldn't respond in a way that made it appear as though I was somehow ashamed of them. Or wanted to hide them.

I took the risk. With courage and pride I told her exactly what I'd been up to. That no, there were no living babies. But there were dead ones.

But, of course, I said it differently. I used the language the non-bereaved find palatable. I was quick, succinct and to the point. Not morose. Not self-pitying. Just the facts.

And I haven't heard from her since.

Not a whisper.

She's been on Facebook. I've seen her online. She has, of course, read what I left on her wall. She has to have.

And either she doesn't know what to do with it, or I've somehow upset her by posting something sad and creepy on her wall.

But she asked. And this is my truth. And I won't apologize for it or hide it.

I. Will. Not.

12 comments:

bleu said...

Good for you. I am sorry she is so inept in responding though.

Catherine said...

Good for you! I read the McCracken excerpt on O Magazine online and found this line to be exactly right...

All she wanted was permission to remember her child with pleasure, instead of grief. To remember that he was dead but to remember him without pain. He's dead but of course she still loves him and that love isn't morbid or bloodstained or unsightly, it doesn't need to be shoved away.

debbie said...

And you shouldn't. How rude of her. A simple I'm sorry to hear that would suffice. Doesn't anyone know if there aren't any kids anywhere in your profile, it's probably b/c they're aren't any. Unless of course she was asking just to make sure they weren't on your facebook page, in your photos or in some reference somewhere, because you were hiding them in a dungeon. Excuse me for thinking her an idiot, but . . . I can't help it.

Beth said...

Never apologize. It is her problem not yours.

Abby said...

You shouldn't have to apologize for or hide your children. You (and they) are not creepy in any way. You did the right thing and she's doing the wrong thing.

I just can't understand why some people can't say those two little words that are the most appropriate in this sort of situation: "I'm sorry."

She asked, you answered, and that's all you can do. I'm selfishly kind of hoping she discovers your blog, though, and reads this. Some people just need a little kick in the pants (or somewhere else)...

AnnaMarie said...

Sometimes I feel bad for people who encounter us. Really, she probably just wanted to make pleasant small talk and didn't know all that could be involved with asking a simple question. For most people deciding to have a baby turns into a pregnancy and pregnancies turn into babies to take home and raise and complain about. It's really interesting that she can't think of any way to respond.

I have never been asked about whether I have any children (perhaps I don't look maternal) so I don't know how I will respond to this question yet. You sound very comfortable with your response in this situation. Since you thought very hard about your response under different circumstances would you have replied differently?

dbm/gaa said...

The exact same thing happened to me on Facebook, exact freakin' same. Good for you for not hiding Thomas.

Teresa said...

You need not to apologize for anything! "Some" people from the past are left there for a reason.... (just feeling a bit snarky on your behalf!)

Megan said...

You're brave – and I wish she could handle it.
I just had a healthy son after a full-term stillbirth (and a miscarriage no one knows about).
I keep having people tell me how happy they are that my husband and I have become parents.
No one has anything to say, though, after I say that we became a mother and a father after we held our daughter in our arms. We're just lucky enough now to have a second child who gets to come home with us...
I always read but rarely comment, Kristin, but I'm always wishing for a little one to share the warmth of your kitchen.

Sherry said...

And, you shouldn't hide or apologize. She asked; you answered. It just wasn't the answer she was expecting, I'm sure. I mean, I don't think anyone ever actually expects to hear something other than happy family stories.

Heather said...

I think you're awesome.

The same thing happened to me on Facebook too. I cowered down to the private message. And I never got a response, either.

People really can't handle it, can they.

kate said...

And you are correct. I am sorry, though, that you have to be.

FWIW, i remember being on the other side of a similar encounter years ago, before Nicolas died. I got an email from an old college friend which had been sent in the middle of the night, the usual shallow 'stay in touch' thing. I responded in kind with the children question in the small talk somewhere. A few days later a long email came back with many details of their firstborn's NICU stay/long-term medical issues/etc. I did reply (though it took me a day or two) and a halting, ackward correspondence ensued. Eventually we lost touch again, due to not having much in common, and my not knowing what to say about the medical saga on the other end. (afaik the baby is alive & healthy now, though possibly with some ongoing issues) I think about them now and again, and hope i didn't say anything actively hurtful. But in any case, saying *something* is usually better than saying nothing at all.