Inch By Inch

To those of you who have been following my story, whether it be from right beside me, or only via my blog, you would know that around the same time that Everlee was born (within 6 weeks) both of my very best friends had babies as well. Claire was Born in January, and Danny was born in the wee hours of the first day or February. As a psychiatrist I spoke to once put it, it made a dreadfully tragic circumstance that much more painful for me to deal with. We were supposed to enter a new chapter of our lives together, like we did for high school, post-secondary and marriage. We’ve done everything together. And this was supposed to be the start of another generation of friends.

Don’t get me wrong for a second, I am over the moon happy for A and K. I love their children as if they were my own blood. They are wonderful babies. But knowing that my two best friends who I have turned to for everything in my entire life were now moving onto a stage of life that we were supposed to journey on together, without me, has been beyond heartbreaking. In spoken and unspoken ways we have been all in a delicate dance for the last number of months.

How much do I share of my sorrow without becoming too much?

And how much do they share of their joy without feeling like they’re hurting me?

Most times we don’t have to talk about this agonizing tango. It’s been hard. On all of us. Not just me.  But both of them live at a distance and going through this without them nearby has been worse than I could imagine.

So when the stars aligned a few weeks ago that we could all be together again for the first time in over 2 years, I swallowed my pain and booked a ticket to Halifax so that I could spend a week with my three best girlfriends – two of them with their same-aged children.

A lot of people were worried about me. Including myself. Mostly myself. How would I deal with being in a house with two babies the same age as Everlee should be? Would their crying cut me like thousand tiny knives? And would I be able to look at them without feeling the pain of every one of Everlee’s missed smiles?

Surprisingly, spending time with the kids was not the hardest part of the week for me. What was harder to swallow was the fact that my two best friends has grown into the most wonderful mothers. Watching them cooing over their beautiful babies, and kissing away every tear, and falling in love all over again over every giggle was what was most painful. Their shells were the same, but they had found a new love in the eyes of their kids that has awakened a beauty that I had never seen in them before. Their smiles were brighter, and they glowed with pride. And the jealousy I felt was almost more than I could bear sometimes. And I fought with myself, So overwhelmingly happy for them, to see them oozing with pure joy. And so sad for myself, who should be feeling all of that love for my Everlee, but instead feeling them exact opposite. Hot, burning painful sorrow of her absence.

I enjoyed my week. We shopped. We laughed, we drank beer and talked about the past and the future. I love my girl friends more than almost anything in the whole world, and my pain did not and will not ever overshadow our lifetime of friendship. Long before children were on the immediate radar, the three of us dreamed of a scenario where our kids grew up together, close in age and close in proximity. We imagined our babies crawling around together, our toddlers fighting over toys, our pre-schoolers trading sentences. It’s only natural, of course, for us to wish the sort of closeness between our kids as we share ourselves.  I grieve for that loss. But I am so thankful for their amazing supportive friendship. I am so incredibly lucky to have had these beautiful women in my life for the last 24 years. And nothing – NOTHING – will ever change that.

A, K, MD: I love you endlessly and thank you for being exactly the kind of friends I have needed every day of my life. And thank you for being there for me for that last week in Hali. You’re support and patience with me helped me more than you could ever understand, even if I never speak it aloud.

As I’ve changed -or maybe as my friends have changed- so have our relationships.  Sometimes we’ve stayed buoyed to each other and sometimes we’ve floated away, each pushed along by the tide of our own lives.  The friendships that have stuck and have followed me through my life despite all the changes, both theirs and mine, are the ones in which we’ve continued to find new places in our lives for each other.

I am not the same as I was seven months ago and neither are all of my friendships.  There is no more animosity for the ones who could not stay but there is so much gratitude for the ones that did.

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5 thoughts on “Inch By Inch

  1. Dear Rhonda: Just read your story for the second time and it was absolutely beautiful. You have a wonderful way to describe your friendships.

    I was one of the people that worried about you going to Halifax. I worried that it would not be what you were dreaming off, time with your friends and their babies. I worried that it would be another slice in your heart and that you would not have Darcy to comfort you when you down.

    But,,,your friends have indeed shown their incredible caring sides and helped you to have fun and cope with the all the painful minutes that you have to carry on without Everlee with you. It takes a lot of strength for them and you to pick your way through this journey and help one another.

    Yesterday we were out in the garden working, painting the steps and general yard work when I said look, “Everlee’s roses are blooming again”. It was so natural to me. Dad said, “Everlee’s Roses”, sounds so beautiful. We both kept going, but our hearts are always torn in so many ways.

    Today, we decided to go away, and just leave our chores behind. We travelled, north, and as I looked into the clouds, I thought, “Do you know I am thinking of you Everlee”. I never said a word, as sometimes, I think, I don’t want Dad to be unhappy too. We stopped along the way, at the big shop at Southhampton, where we were with you and Darcy. I love poking around in all the stuff, and looking for some kind of a bargain. Although I had some fun, my heart was in pain, as I looked a the trinkets, the baby books, the baby clothes and the quilts. I thought, don’t torture yourself, just get out of here. I never mentioned a word as we kept on our journey.

    We missed the road with the little kiddie train, that we wanted to take Everlee too. We both thought the same thing. So even though I didn’t mention a word, both of us, are thinking of your baby all the time. It is hard to keep going, but with friends and family, just like your blog said, it does help.

    You know who your real friends are, because you are free to be who you want to be and say what you need, so that on days like today, you can find comfort in talking about our precious little one.

    I am so thankful that you have such wonderful friends and I am very happy that I do too. Without our family and friends, where would we all be. A very lonely place indeed.

    Just wanted you to know that we are thinking of Darcy and you, and that we miss you.. Love as always is with you both, Love Mom/McMom and Dad/McDad

  2. I can’t imagine what a roller coaster of emotions it must be for you, to be so happy for your friends and hurting so much at the same time… but you are lucky to have them, and it shows in your writing that you know that 🙂 And when you and Darcy are blessed with Everlee’s little brother or sister, these babies may be older, but the bond they will have with your child because of the bond you have with their mothers will be just as precious 🙂 Everlee could never be replaced, but Claire and Danny will be the big siblings she can’t be 🙂

    It’s a bit funny, though… while reading this my heart, as always, breaks for you… but I also had a little pange of jealousy. Not because of the pain you’re going through, but because of the friendships you highlight in this story. The only person that I knew as a child that I still am in touch with today is my brother. Everyone in my life today – even my friends back in Ontario – I met within the last 10 years. I have always been a bit envious of people who have the kinds of friends you describe here. I love my friends to pieces, but I wish sometimes I had someone who had known me through all of the stuff that came before….
    You are so lucky to have friends like that in your life, and I hope you never lose sight of that. I’m pretty sure you won’t, as your love for them is clear in your writing. While you have been excrutiatingly unlucky in other areas, you have been truely blessed in the friendship department 🙂 And I am glad for you, as these relationships will help you more than any psychiatrist ever could 🙂

  3. I am always reluctant to read your blog posts just because I know that it is going to be painful even just to read them.

    I talk so often about how stressful it is being a mother, or how frustrated I am feeling during the day-to-day struggle with my two kiddos … without thinking twice about what life would be like without them. Even though it brings me to tears, I’m always glad to come and read your beautiful words. You are a beautiful, kind, and amazing woman. I don’t envy you having gone through this … but I certainly admire your strength, and the courage that it takes to write about such a struggle. ❤

    You're amazing. Thank you for sharing yourself.

  4. Rhonda i just came to find myself reading your blog yesterday and have read it from start to present with tears falling down my face. I want to be able to hug you and i have never met you. What a wonderful mother you are and i will follow with intrest your journey as you so honestly and openly share your grief and joy as Everlees’ mother. Thankyou for sharing your story xx

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