For years after Allie died, I was worried about each and every pregnant person that I knew. Or read about. Or heard a story about. If I saw a pregnant woman walking down the street, I would walk the other way. If I had to talk to a pregnant woman, I would make eye contact only. I would never dare to look at her swollen belly.
When my sister-in-law was pregnant with my niece (and later my nephew), I changed my behavior slightly. I did this for her sake as well as mine. We both had to be comfortable around each other, and there are things you do for a family that you simply cannot do for others.
While I still do not attend baby showers or buy presents for babies until there are here, I have relaxed a little bit and not freaked out when I hear someone is pregnant. My cousin had the most adorable little boy last month so my mom, Miranda, and I took an almost 6-hour road trip (round trip) just to welcome him to the family, smell his delicious head, and feed him a bottle. It was more than worth it.
I let my guard down. I forgot to be scared. I felt almost normal.
And then a baby died.
There was a baby that was growing safe and sound in his mommy and was due in late June. I talked to his mom about his upcoming arrival. Not a lot, but more than I ever had before.
That mommy is having a funeral for her son this weekend.
I do not know all the details. It's not my business to know. What I do know is that he was alive one day and then gone the next.
People were afraid to tell me. People were afraid for me to know.
It was like someone set off a grief bomb.
I took a minute to feel sorry for myself. "Why does this keep happening?" "Is there any way it's my fault?"
Then I realized it was not about me. It's not about the me that I used to be.
What I am now, since surviving the most horrendous tragedy ever, is a bit of a subject matter expert. Once I let the tears escape my eyes, I dried them off and got to business. I gathered information on grief counseling and support groups and a list of "do's and don'ts." I took the sadness from my past and used it to help make someone else's days less sad.
I took on grief from the other side.
I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I do not believe that baby is in a better place. I do believe in the power of love and compassion to get us through.
To Anthony - I am sorry we never got to meet. It's cruel. It's unfair. You were very much wanted and are very much loved. I remember you. I will make sure you are not forgotten, even by the people on the periphery of your life. That is my promise to you.
Please say hi to my girl if you see her. I suspect you will.