The doorbell rang on Halloween night, for about the 40th time, I think. I trudged toward the door, feet hitting the floor a little harder then necessary, sure I knew what was coming. I was expecting yet another throng of teenagers partially dressed in their parent's recycled clothes so they could cash in on the free candy. Or, if not then a pre-school sized group of tiny Tinkerbell's and Diego's running up to the door as their parents stood at the end of the walkway and waited.
I answered the door with a sigh - Then, I stopped short and breathed in sharply. Standing before me was neither over-generalized group, but a mother, a father and very 8-year old looking daughter. Emma - what would you have been for Halloween if you had the chance?
Our interactions were atypical of the "trick-or-treat...don't forget to say thank you's" I had listened to all evening. In fact, we didn't even speak for a minute. We just shared a smile: the mother and I, the father and I, the daughter and I. Emma, what would you look like at 8 years old? Oh - how I wish I knew.
I recognized this family. We live in a small town. But I didn't know their names, only their faces. I felt rooted to my doorstep, sure I was supposed to focus on this encounter with all my energy. Then mom spoke, "Is Bear here or is she out?". I was stunned. She knew Bear. Of course- our kids went to the same school. Just because I didn't know her daughter's name didn't mean she didn't know mine. She doesn't know my other daughter's name. No one I met after 2000 knows Emma's name unless I TELL THEM!
"No. She went with a group of parents and kids from next door. My youngest is sleeping." I replied, still struck by the easy gait of our conversation. She really listened to my words, nodding and making small noises signaling her agreement with my ideas.
"What did she dress up as?" she inquired, really wanting to know. "She didn't" I quickly said.
I could have left it at that. I answered her question, but, surprising myself I continued, wanting her to know more. "We have a different way of looking at Halloween. Our family I mean." I paused, gauging her reaction but she was still genuinely smiling and nodding. I went on, "You see, we have a daughter who passed and, well, when you are born with a sister already in heaven you approach certain holidays from a different standpoint, sometimes, some years anyway."
I thought I must have said too much. I mean, I was blabbering on to a woman I knew from face recognition only. She simply deepened her smile, but the look in her eyes shifted, and I knew. I knew she, too, had felt the loss, the devestation that takes hold in the crevices of your heart when you lose a baby. Her smile said it all.
So, I ask you - Is that all we have? Is that the bat-signal for dbm's? A smile, a nod, and a look in our sad eyes? And does one of us have to be brave enough to say the words before the reconition can be acknowledged?
Reading Missing_One's post tonight really got me thinking about this.
WE are everywhere.
WE, the women who were pregnant, then weren't.
WE the women who carried babies, then lost them, delivered them, held them as they took their last breath, WE are EVERYWHERE.
And yet, we don't recognize each other. We can't. We don't have a colorful display of sorrow so we can find each other in a crowd.
Instead, we take our other children to pre-school, we suffer through subsequent pregnancies fielding the "is this your first" question 10 times a day, we shop at the grocery store, we rent movies, we get hair cuts. WE are just like everyone else, except not.
Although wearing a sign, or a pendant, or - hell I don't know - a flashing neon sign is out of the question, it would be nice to know how to connect, how to respect each other with a small smile and a nod.
The wed have rings.
The un-wed don't have rings.
There is a pink arch for cancer awareness.
There are magnets on cars if your husband or wife is in Iraq.
Where are we? How can we find each other in real life without taking the ultimate chance and saying our truth out loud,
"I lost my baby. My baby is dead."
Question: Do you say it out loud? If so, are you met with smiles and nods or pitying glances? Is is worth it?
CATCH UP FROM THE START!
TO READ MY STORY FROM THE BEGINNING CLICK HERE THEN READ THE 7 COUNTDOWN POSTS TO EMMA'S EIGHTH BIRTHDAY!