“The friendship which can cease has never been real.” (St. Jerome)
I’ve been harboring some hurts that I haven’t told you about. There are so many questions residing within. There’s an awkwardness and an insecurity in our relationship. Why did things have to change? Why did my grief cause a divide?
How can you, who were there the day she died, who fled your job, left your family at home, and ran to my side, have put so much distance between us?
I know I became bitter. And negative. And fearful. And I couldn’t move on. But guess what? I was sad and freshly grieving. I’m still sad. I’m still grieving. If my hurts were too much mixed with your own hurts, then you should have just told me, because I care about what you are going through, too. I can still carry the burdens of others while trudging through this raging storm.
I’ve changed so much, and you haven’t even been around to witness it. Do you still think I’m “stuck?” “Unaccepting?” “Embracing” my suffering? Plagued by my loss?
I didn’t choose this cross. In fact, there was a time that you helped me carry it. A time when you bore my burdens. A time, when I verbalized that I was concerned that I may have over shared. That maybe I let the heaviness fall onto you just a little too much. I let you enter into the intimate space of this wound, and you assured me “that I could never share too much. That I could say anything.” You told me, “I can handle it.”
Six months after losing her, you couldn’t handle it anymore, and you told me it became too much. You compared my grief to others. My journey to others. But this is my grief. My journey. Her story.
Things have never been the same since that conversation. I cried in front of you that day, and you just stared back at me. Numb and emotionless. Were you shocked? How did you think I should have responded? I’ve treaded lightly ever since.
Did you forget the painful hours of my labor in the dark hospital room? (The room you told me that you hate.). Did you forget praying over me, tears streaming down your face? I still see you now, hovering above me, as I recall that moment. A single tear leaves my eye as I type this out.
Did you forget what it was like for me to deliver death that day? My baby, born silent, whom I had been longing for. You watched my body change and grow over those nine months, and you anxiously anticipated her arrival, as well. And in the blink of an eye, it all ended so quickly and unexpectedly. Her life suddenly ceased to exist, and mine would never be the same again.
Did you forget what it was like to hold her cold body? No beating heart. Marveling at her beauty and crying endlessly with me? Did you forget that you stood over her casket and stayed right by my side at her burial? You did so much in those early days of grief. You were a faithful friend. I was so thankful. And I still am. I leaned into our friendship so much in those early months.
But we lost that. I could see your life moving on, while my body, mind, and heart stayed stuck in the same place. And I wish I could tell you how much it hurts. I wish I could figure out why things went wrong. I wish I could help you understand the pain and loneliness of this road.
But I can’t.
When I do see you now, which is so infrequently, I am frozen. And stunned. I often don’t even know how to have a conversation with you. I can’t handle small talk or debriefing anymore. And when I have seen you over the past nine months, you don’t even ask me how I am doing. You avoid the question. You ask about the living children. But not about me. And you rarely say her name. It’s painful and awkward.
And maybe you’re just busy, and I’m feeling insecure. But I guess I’m left wondering, do I let the friendship go? Is it beyond repair? It seems like it will never be the same again. And if I’ve hurt you, I wish you’d let me know. And if you don’t want to be friends anymore, I wish you would just tell me that, too. Because I’m exhausted, and I don’t have time to fret over what is beyond my control and what will never be. It eats away at me, and I’m trying so hard to live again. But you don’t know that, either.
I can’t be completely ungrateful for the distance. After all, real and tangible relationships have flourished in the past year and a half from people who haven’t been afraid to “go there.” Who accept me where I am. Who haven’t tried to force me to fast forward through the grief process. Who embrace the honesty, the hard days, and “get it” when I’m just not doing well. Who gently urge me on without judgement and are patient with this journey.
But I guess it just hurts because I miss you, and I’m sad to see things change. Losing “our girl” has changed my life forever, but it seemed to only temporarily impact yours. Or at least that’s what it looks like on the outside. It’s also a reminder of different aspects of life that were lost when she died...like relationships, and passions, and like mindedness. I know I’m not all that “fun” anymore. Losing a child definitely sets you in a separate category. Especially still birth.
And I feel like it needs to be said, that I’ve supported you in your endeavors struggles. In aspirations that took up your time and energy and that were so unbelievably trivial in comparison to burying a child. And I didn’t speak out when your passions moved you away from what mattered most. Why, then, did it become so hard for you support me?
You may never know these things, or how I am really feeling. I’m not sure I may ever have the courage to open up my heart to you again. I’ve learned I cannot be vulnerable with everyone, and this grief journey is not meant for all. Not everyone needs to have a piece of my shattered heart. But I do pray for you, and for God’s plan to be revealed. I also ask my sweet girl to pray for you, too, and to pray for us with the intention that if this relationship is to be repaired, that God ordain the timing and details.
T. Eliot says, “Unreal friendship may turn to real. But real friendship, once ended, cannot be mended.” And I wonder...is this true for us? Was our friendship infact real? And can it and will it be mended?