From the moment that I announced my pregnancy, everyone had an opinion. Boy or girl. What I was eating. Was I drinking coffee. Which doctor did I choose. Would we circumcise. Would I choose natural childbirth. New life is exciting. People who didn’t even know me, talked to me about my baby. Sometimes it was welcome. Sometimes it was not. Everybody wants to talk to you about your baby… until your baby dies. Once you lose your baby, suddenly walls start to go up. The very same people who once gushed over your pregnant belly and ultrasound photos, now want nothing to do with you. When it comes to strangers or distant acquaintances, that kind of silence isn’t a problem. But there are people in your life who you just assume will always be there. Those very same people just might let you down.
Death makes people uncomfortable. It makes them sad and vulnerable. Nobody really wants to be vulnerable. I no longer have any say in the matter. Lincoln deserves to be shared with the world, so I leave my heart wide open for everyone to see. Many people in my life, have closed theirs off to me. Lincoln is a crutial part of who I am, and I want people to know him. I wish that people could see him when they look at me. But they can’t see him. They didn’t meet him. To avoid feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable, they often pretend that my grief doesn’t exist: that Lincoln doesn’t exist. Coworkers, close friends, and even family. They disappear. It is isolating. It is disappointing. It is hurtful.
As these people fade into the background, I have quickly found the ones who will truly always be there. They are the ones who have stayed.
Bonds have grown stronger as I’ve found people who will laugh with me, but will also cry with me. People who will say his name. People who love me, despite my mess of a life. To these people, I am so grateful. Friends have had to get to know me in a new way, while I have also been getting to know myself. They are risking the chances of saying the wrong thing, or not knowing what to do for me. I know that I’m not always easy to be around. My life revolves around something incredibly painful, and it makes me unpredictable. I often have no control over my own emotions, never sure how I’ll feel on any given day. I am incredibly aware of how much it takes to be my friend. It takes patience and grace. It takes understanding and compassion. It takes effort and love.
I have lost a lot of people since December. My heart is a little smaller than it used to be. The parts that are left, are battered and bruised. I no longer have what it takes to chase after the ones who disappear. If you know someone who is grieving and you’re tempted to disappear, believe me when I say that it does not make things easier for us. Don’t go. You’re afraid to say the wrong thing? Then don’t say anything at all, but be there. You don’t want to remind us? We never forget. You don’t want to cry? I would rather know that my son has touched your life, than for you to pretend he didn’t exist. Just stay.