Everybody asks me how she's doin'
Has she really lost her mind?
I said, I couldn't tell you
I've lost mine
The desperately sad thing that happened to my friend last month - this is how it went.
On Wednesday night I had dinner with the Canadians, sort of a goodbye, only really just prolonging, since I was scheduled to come back by the next day to help them load their u-haul trailer. Corrine was four months pregnant and couldn't really lift anything, so Mike asked me to help him carry their tv and mattress down the stairs. They were going for an ultra-sound in the morning, to find out if they were having a boy or a girl, and would call me when they got back.
Thursday afternoon, I'm standing in my local market, paying for a deli sandwich, headed back home to pack my own car for a weekend trip to Florida (family business). Corrine's number shows up on the caller id, and I say hi cheerily and ask her to hang on so I'm not terribly rude to the check out clerk. Turns out it's Mike instead, and he sounds funny. The ultra sound wasn't good. So many things wrong, he says. I can't tell anyone else, he says. Will you call our friends? Be sure to spread the word in my department, make someone tell my boss. I'm not coming in to work today.
I start the friend phone tree, not really sure what I'm telling them. Have they lost the baby? Is it going to be a complicated pregnancy? Is Corrine ok? Corrine calls back a couple of hours later with definitive word. They've lost the baby. She's scheduled for a D&E in the morning. She's never had surgery before, and can't stop shaking.
I make the telephone rounds again, this time with specific bad news. Everyone asks what to do? Fuck, I don't know. I'm no more experienced in this than you are. Well, I think, they're all packed up to move to California. That must make cooking difficult. They don't want to see or talk to anyone, but we could arrange to have food delivered. Make that one small logistical area of their life suck less. I order flowers. Shit. I'm still supposed to drive to Florida. Do I go? Do I stay? Do I just postpone?
In the end, I go. But it isn't until I cross the threshold of more than halfway there that I stop considering turning around. I still think I should have put the trip off one day. C needed me to hold her hand as they wheeled her in to that surgery. Of course, Mike was there, but he was in it too. I should have been there.
In between helping my grandfather in and out of chairs and having repetitive conversations with Marion (whose short term memory is long gone) I call C, to make sure she's ok, physically. That night, from the hotel room, I call some friends, remind them about the food delivery idea.
I get home Sunday night, discover no one has done anything, they're all waiting for me to hold their hand. I'm pissed. We're all grown-ups! I get that I naturally fall into this leadership role, but I had hoped it fell short of enabling. You should be able to act when I'm not around.
Monday morning I deliver two bags of groceries to their apartment, then spend the week fielding calls from everyone else as they try to figure out how to do the same. Thursday night I'm back at M and C's house, lying in bed with C, watching Mike pack, watching tv. Not really talking about anything. Friday morning I'm back again - time to finally help carry the tv downstairs.
And then they're gone. And finally I'm sad.
It's not my story to tell. I would never begin to imagine that I know what M and C are going through, or that I feel a tiny fraction of their pain.
But on the other hand, I did go through it. I lost that kid too. I was going to be a part of its life. Auntie Megan. I was writing a letter to baby Wilson (something AWB thought of and did years ago for her best friend). M and C were only here two years, for his post doc, so I was going to write this letter, about what they were like as people, as my friends. What their life was like here. I was going to put together a book with pictures of all our different parties and places we hung out in atlanta and M and C looking happy. C pregnant, but not showing yet.
I lost that kid too. And I lost my best friend. And I'm mourning and people keep asking me how she's doing, which is right, I'm the one who knows. But they just want me to say she's hanging in there, doing better. They look surprised and confused when I say I'm sad. They ask why. I lost that kid too. I sit still for too long and it sneaks up on me. During meditation in yoga class I have to fight back the tears. It seems too hard to explain, to justify, that I'm grieving the loss of a child who wasn't mine.