Last week a one of my closest friends came to visit me from California. We have criscrossed the world and continent many times and still our friendship has remained intact. One move she gave me a card that called me a 'big tree' friend. That the roots of our friendship go deep and the branches of our future will keep growing.
My friend came out after experiencing a family tragedy. She gave birth to her first child in the beginning of August. At fifteen weeks during her pregnancy she discovered in a routine ultrasound that her son had several physical problems. These problems were deemed incompatible with life. Through many conversations I heard her heart about whether to terminate the pregnancy or allow her baby to go full term.
She and her husband choose to have her son. There were many reasons at one point they believed that he might be able to donate to another child and save the life of another little one. During the pregnancy it was decided that he would not be able to donate. They chose to have their baby anyway.
She gave birth to their son, they named him Gabriel Eleison Stengel, and they got to enjoy him for forty hours. In the end he was able to donate heart valves to another child.
During the course of her visit I asked questions and she answered honestly about why they choose to have their son. Now the more I process what she went through and how she conducted herself I realise that maybe she just wanted to meet and know her first child. To have the privilege that any parent wants, to hold and love their love their child for as long as they are given time.
During one of our drives into Boston I went on about how conflicted I was about being a stay at home mom. That while I loved my child and wanted the best for her I felt that my education and career aspirations were being put on the shelf. After probably fifteen to twenty minutes of spew she spoke up, in a calm and non-judgemental voice,
"Can I say something?"
"You have her," I felt like an asshole. I apologized. She told me that wasn't her intention. I know it wasn't. I told her that I was talking out of both sides of my mouth that in one breath I am frustrated and in the next I am thanking God for her perfect little life. I think she knows that.
Tonight Emma stumbled and started crying profusely. She didn't seem hurt herself, maybe she was too tired, maybe she scared herself, maybe she hurt herself with the book she was holding and I couldn't see the bump. I found myself holding her and comforting longer than maybe I should have. I snuck little kisses at the corner of her mouth and told her she would be okay. I think awhile ago something in me clicked and I realised that she won't let me do this forever. That soon mommy's kisses won't fix all the hurts she feels. Soon she won't know that she can still trust me with her hurts. Soon she'll want to fix herself.
Maybe my friends words have sunk into my brain. I remember at the beginning of her life feeling inconvienced and put out by all the crying and nursing. I think even before her words of wisdom I knew how lucky I was to get to parent this little child who was born perfect. But sometimes a reminder helps.