Sometimes that is all is takes. It’s that easy to help someone that has lost a baby not feel so alone. And isolated from others. How are you doing?
I was leaving my son’s pre-school the other day, and the principal, who knows that we lost again, peeked her head out of her office. She came to our baby son’s funeral, and even brought an incredibly delicious meal to us in the days after we were told the sad news. She said as I walked by, “How are you doing?” And really looked me in my eyes. I said, “You know, I am okay.” I tried to look away. She continued with, “I am sure it is hard.” I was pleasantly surprised that someone could realize that I was still hurting. It has been about three months since we buried Michael. February 21, 2014. That’s not that long. So, I looked up feeling understood, and replied, “Yes, it is. Thank you for asking how I was doing. That means a lot.” And it does.
The boys and I do garden club at our church, where we clean up around the grounds. The boys mostly play with bugs and the dirt. But the people there appreciate them just being there. And I want to instill in them, early on, giving back. So, it all works out. Anyhow, we were there on a beautiful May evening. And I was busy trimming a tree, and this parishioner, probably my mom’s age looks over at me. I barely even know her. She said, “How are you doing, Anne?” I was kind of shocked that she even knew my name. I glanced over and said, “I’m okay thanks.” I was raised growing up to ask how the other person is doing in response. I was kind of caught-up in my thoughts at that moment. I was remembering how I was doing this last year. And we had just lost Emily. And here I am a year later, with another baby that has died. It didn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem fair. As I was lost a little, in my own thoughts, this lady said, “I am sorry about your baby.” I didn’t even know, that she knew. I was taken aback, in a good way, and said, “Oh, thank you. And thank you for saying something.” And I talked a little about our losses. It felt good to talk. I don’t say much this this time around. I am grieving differently. I am more inward, and I don’t say much. But when someone allows me to, and doesn’t try to “fix me”, and is just present and with me, it feels good. It helps me not feel alone, even if they have never themselves, experienced this.
I chuckle, as I remember how I mourned with Emily. In those days following, as I got her funeral programs ready. Or shopped with my husband for funeral clothes. I told anyone that asked how I was doing, that I had lost a baby. Most were shocked, of course. Probably too much info. But I wanted them to understand, if they just got a glimpse of me crying. What that all meant. I am crying as I type that. It still is so fresh and real, even a year later. I will never forget this, as I was waiting for our funeral programs to be printed at Fed-Ex, I realized that I had not eaten anything that day. It was the day before we were going to bury our Emily. I was exhausted to say the least. I still could not believe all that was happening. I went into Panera’s to get a sandwich. When I was back in college, I used to love sitting down at Panera’s and doing my school work. It was just my hang-out. Anyhow, I went up to order my food, and then man working, who happened to be the manager, asked, “And how are you doing today?” I looked at him, and said, “I am doing as good as I can be considering my circumstances. My baby just died.” I am again, crying, as I type this. He looked right into my eyes, and said “I am sorry.” And without me knowing, rang up and paid for my meal. And told me to go have a seat, and he would bring my food over. I cannot tell you, how much that meant to me. Then, and to this day. To have someone say, I am sorry. And to take care of me.
If you noticed, I respond verbally differently, this time around with our Michael. With Emily, I wanted to talk about my pain. Why I may have looked like I just cried. But with Michael, I just say, “I am okay.” I am not great. I am not depressed. I have good days. And bad days. Good moments. And bad moments. That is just the nature of this grieving thing. But I will say, I truly appreciate people still asking, “How are you doing?”