I admit that my stubbornness kept me from texting first when I didn’t hear from you that day. Because I always instigate conversations, and this time I decided that you owed me. When your message finally arrived I gave it a full five minutes to sit while I finished up the dishes. Then I read it.
When a sentence fills the world, it causes the air to ache in your ears like silence after a loud noise. Please don’t freak out, but It knits little versions of itself into your deepest places, so that you feel the angles of the seraphs on the inside. I had the baby yesterday and I remember sitting on my kitchen floor and seeing the sentence, black and sharp and too bright on the screen. she was stillborn.
In that moment, I thought about you when you weren’t even a fully formed face in my mind, but a figure in my periphery. You were burying a cicada on the playground in fifth grade. And then my mind jumped forward, through thirteen years of sleepovers, silliness, shared secrets, heartache, and triumph, to your wedding day two years ago when you leaned into the May morning with an unmovable grin on your face, me stooping over your heavy train and laughing as my nervous hands lost their grip on the silk. I thought about the past six months of pinned nursery décor, name ideas, sewing projects, little outfits from Target. I thought about your daughter, still just a glimmer in your mind’s eye made suddenly too bright and real.
Later when we talked about it, you told me that she had your lips. You could see your lips on her face, which surprised you because you didn’t picture that detail when you envisioned your little girl. I know that after this you will never be just you again, at least not the way you were before her. But I also know that the self is defined most by what we take from others, or what others take from us.
Dear friend, I’m sorry for all the times I felt jealous that you hit milestones first. Or superior that I was waiting for mine. Because no matter who was the grown-up at any given time, we grew more or less into the women we hoped we’d be. As you pick up your life again, more adult than either of us ever imagined becoming, I will be here to carry some of the weight like I carried your train on your wedding day.
Photo by Corey Torpie (APW Sponsor)