The Club

Almost two months ago I got an e-mail from a friend-of-a-friend.  She had just lost her baby girl within days of her due date, and she didn’t know of anyone else who had experienced such a loss.  I have done my best to help her understand something I have recently been through even though I’m the first to admit I don’t understand it either.  Empathy?  I have that.  Advice?  I’ve got tons.  Understanding life and death, dead babies, understanding why us?  I honestly don’t have a clue.

MB is still in the stage where grief feels raw, where uncertainty rules, and where life seems unfair.  She has done so much to remember her baby Reese by already and she is doing an amazing job helping her baby put goodness and love into the world when a different person would only be able to give sadness.

We are both part of the same club now.  A club you would never sign up for on your own, but once you meet the qualifications you grab hands with everyone in there and  you hold on tight.  We share the burden of keeping our babies alive long after their time has passed.  And yes, it does feel like a burden at times.  It is such a responsibility, keeping a memory alive when you are the only person who ever came close to knowing the baby and when some others are made uncomfortable by the mention of your baby because all they can remember is his death and not his life.

It is up to me to plan events to remember Angelo on his birthday.  If I don’t, his birthdate just becomes another Wednesday or Thursday to the family.  I am the one who reminds my son to give a little shout-out to his baby brother in heaven every once in awhile.  I am the one who has to decide what to say when people ask me how many kids I have.  I sometimes say “two,” then guiltily send an apology in the general direction of the sky.  I sometimes say “three,” then see the shock cross the other person’s face because I forget that the thought of a baby dying is so far removed from their lives that it’s like a Taser to the conversation.  The next minutes are spent reassuring them that it’s okay and it will never happen to them.  Like, our baby died but we knew about it ahead of time, so no biggie.  Or: our baby died but if he had lived he would have been a vegetable so what a blessing, really.

When the shock value has worn off their faces then I ask if they saw The Office this week and you can tell they’re glad I asked.

So when MB posted this picture on Facebook last week for Pregnancy and Infant Loss day (October 15) I felt so understood.  MB, who is still in the throes of grief, has the grace to take care of others around her. 

I’ve always hated exclusive clubs but I am so so grateful to be a part of this one. 

Thank you, MB, for sharing…everything.

If you want to see more of Reese’s story, you can check out the blog MB started.

Baked rigatoni with bechamel sauce and prosciutto
Butternut squash soup
Salad with roasted pears and cranberry vinaigrette
Biscuit quince pie

4 thoughts on “The Club

  1. You are awesome. Don’t ever forget it.

    I think all good moms taken on burdens of the family. It will be up to me to remember Reese’s birthday and to plan it so that it’s extra special each year. But this would probably be the case too if she were alive.

    The other day I accidentally said “Riley” when I meant “Reese” and my heart went in my throat. How could I get the names confused? Well, duh, people with more than one kid do that all the time. Why do I beat myself up about this?

    We have to cut ourselves some slack – lift the burden.

    You have really helped me in more ways than you can know. The club itself sucks but the people who make up the club are pretty amazing.

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