And so life goes on. Not necessarily because we want it to, but because it has to. There are briefs to be written, lunches to be packed, leaves to be raked, messy houses to be cleaned, knitting projects to be finished, cookies to be baked. There are celebrations and quiet moments. We keep breathing in and out, because what else are we to do?
The days immediately following my miscarriage were difficult. My husband took me out to dinner, and a woman at the next table, noticing the size of my belly, glared at me as I sipped at a glass of wine. We saw a movie. I had a facial. I walked the dogs endlessly - never further than a few minutes from my house, but endlessly. I went to church in ambiguous clothes, pretended nothing was wrong, and directed my little children's bell-choir as usual. The pastor, who knew what was going on because Sam had called her, touched my hand as I packed the bells into their little black case after rehearsal. She didn't need to say anything. What was there to say?
My son made my favorite tea and brought it to me in bed. My daughters hugged me. On the day of my surgery, my neighbor brought my children to school in the morning. When I got home, I discovered that she had also left a crock-pot full of chili on my counter, with a big loaf of French bread next to it and a salad in the refrigerator.
The anesthesiologist at the hospital was brusque. "How far along are you?" she asked, as she was about to put a tube down my throat. She had not read the chart and assumed I was aborting electively. Just another wealthy suburban woman, terminating an inconvenient pregnancy. I looked at my obstetrician for help. She squeezed my hand. My eyes welled up. "This is a case of fetal demise at thirteen weeks," my obstetrician said softly. I saw the oops in the anesthesiologist's face just before everything went dark.
The light came back into my life slowly. I got some beautiful gifts for my birthday: an orchid from my mother-in-law, a crystal vase from my brother and his wife, gift certificates for spa days from my sister and my mom. My brother sat next to me and put his arm around me, without saying a word. The bell-choir performed flawlessly at church a few weeks later and brought tears to the eyes of all present. Yesterday, I walked in a 10K charity fundraiser to combat hunger, and I was the top individual fundraiser there. And last night, I had the privilege of hearing an old friend, one of the most gifted pianists alive today, perform a Liszt concert at Carnegie Hall.
Life is cruel, but it is also a great gift. There are high and lows. We all endure our own little tragedies and our own little triumphs on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes those around us know what we are going through, and sometimes they do not.
Here is what I have learned: we are all going through something. Do not glare at the pregnant woman with the wine glass. Do not assume anything about the apparently wealthy suburban housewife. Do not wish moments away. Do not withhold the bad news, but do not hesitate to share the joy either. Someday, they will cancel each other out.
Have a wonderful week. Seize every moment. I know I will.