My inspiration for this was this Still Standing piece.
I’ve never been great at making friends. My circle has always been small, and before you, I always felt like a background friend. You know how socially awkward I can be, yet, you still gave me a chance. We may have had no choice in being freshmen dorm roommates, but you chose to hang out with me. You waited out my social anxieties and shyness. You waited out my morning zombie self, insisting on talking to me even when my brain wasn’t awake enough to reciprocate. When I didn’t feel like speaking, you filled the silence. You chose to keep inviting me on adventures, and telling me stories, until I was comfortable enough to share my own.
We spent the next three years living together, going on some crazy college adventures. We made memories, and talked about all our futures would bring. We spent time causing trouble, running from trouble, and spent a few times freaking out about things that seem silly now.
We talked about how I always wanted to be a mom, how you were terrified to be a mom, but would eventually come around. We both had big goals in life, and were on the way to achieving them. We spent a few times freaking out about late periods and what we would do if we ever got pregnant before we were ready. (Looking back, we were so stupid to worry, weren’t we?)
We graduated college and went our separate ways, but we stayed in touch. We still text about things that happen to us. We rant to each other when people are being ridiculous. We complain about work, relationships, and more. We got married and were in each others’ weddings.
We both started trying to get pregnant around the same time. When I sent you a picture of me holding my belly, you responded “You bitch!” and I laughed. I couldn’t wait to go through this part of our lives together, even though we live states apart now. I was pregnant first, but I knew you would be pregnant soon, too. And I was right. The morning you sent me a picture of your positive test, it had only been a few days since I found out I was going to miscarry, and I was still waiting for it to happen. I couldn’t respond “You bitch!” because it was no longer a funny joke. I spent a lot of time coming up with something to say that didn’t sound bitter.
Your pregnancy went on and you got a beautiful little girl. I know it was not easy for you, and I know you had some scares and hurdles along the way. I did my best to cheer you on, but as I miscarried and then struggled to get pregnant, I felt anything I said could be taken wrong, that I wasn’t happy for you. I was so very happy for you. I am still so happy for you.
I texted you the week before your sweet girl was born, to let you know I was pregnant again. I tried to walk a line of excitement and conveying that I obviously wasn’t guaranteed a full pregnancy. You seemed excited for me and talked about how I needed to have a girl since you had a girl. My pregnancy progressed this time, and I called you directly after calling my mom to let you know it was a girl. I remember how upset you had been the day you found out you were having a girl. You wanted a boy so badly. I wanted a girl, and my heart was so full.
We talked about nursery themes, baby must-haves, and baby shower ideas.
We talked about how our girls would meet, how we could have trips to see each other, and maybe one day, they would be roomies at the same college.
But, that’s just another dream that has been washed away, never to be spoken about again.
You see, dear friend, you have your sweet girl, and I don’t have mine. At first, I texted you often because you were always one to go to if the things I had to say weren’t nice. You would join in, let me vent, have my back without judgement.
But, you see, you have your sweet girl, and I don’t have mine. I began to realize that the things I wanted to say may start to wear on you. I began to realize that you have your baby, and you are happy. I began to realize that the things I felt and wanted to say weren’t portraying that even though I was just working at surviving, I was still happy that you have your family. I’m so glad that you never have to feel what I feel.
Before I lost my Ava, you shared how your little girl was doing. You told me stories about her and your new life as a mom.
But, that all stopped when I told you that I was going to lose Ava.
You called me hours after I had given birth to my dead baby. You wanted to be there for me, but I had nothing to say. You still tried to talk to me, and I honestly have no idea what was said, but I love you for trying.
It’s been months, and here you are, still trying to speak to me, keep our connection. I love you for trying, but here is the point of my letter: When I have nothing to say in return, it’s not because I don’t want to talk with you. It’s not that I am mad at you, or that I don’t want you around.
You see, dear friend, you have your sweet girl, and I don’t have mine. You don’t share about your baby growing anymore, perhaps in an effort to spare me. I can tell you that I am grateful for that because, honestly, it hurts that I can’t share with you about my little girl. I want to hear about your life, and I want you to keep sharing, but right now, it hurts like hell that I can’t share my own stories. When you do share stories with me, or complain about other things, I know I don’t respond to you, and I know that isn’t fair to you. I know it hurts you, but I don’t know what else to do. I find myself typing a response to your text, only to delete it because it comes off as self-pitying, as something that might make you feel guilty for saying what you said. I don’t want that. I don’t want you to pity me, I don’t want you to feel guilty for getting to keep your baby when I didn’t get to keep mine. I try my best to come up with something to say that is acceptable, and not bitter, but it’s exhausting always going through those motions. I try my best, but sometimes, all I can manage is an “okay” or “lol.” I know you hate those responses, but I can’t let myself drag you down with my own struggles. Sometimes those one word responses are all I can muster because I am crying in the bathroom at work or sobbing in my bed.
I don’t write you this letter to make you feel guilty; the last thing I want you to feel is survivor’s guilt. I write this because I love you, and I know I haven’t shown it lately. I write you this letter because I want you to understand that I am trying. I’m trying to survive, I’m trying to keep our friendship, and I’m trying not to drag you down with me. I write you this letter because all three of those seem impossible most days. I write you this because I want you to know you shouldn’t be afraid to speak your child’s name, but please, don’t be afraid to speak my child’s name either. I need you to know that eventually I will be healed enough to hear your kid stories without biting back bitter responses, but I will always have those days where they also hurt. I want you to know that none of how I feel is your fault, so please don’t stop. I want you to know that it matters less what you say, and more that you say anything at all, so please don’t stop. And always remember…
You are still the bread and the knife. You will always be the bread and the knife. Not to mention the crystal goblet, and somehow the wine.
Your (Grieving, but Still Here) Friend