Saturday, March 19, 2005

Adventures With a Shiny Thumbnail and a Sad Ending

I and my glowing thumbnail were very busy today. We attempted to sleep in, but Babygirl woke us at 7:20 a.m. This is an early hour on a Saturday, yet a full two hours later than my normal wake-up-and-walk time, so I tried not to be bitter.

Saturday morning tradition at our house involves donuts. I combined a trip to the donut shop with a trip to Target to purchase a birthday present and film. Babygirl accompanied me and my glossy thumbnail and although she is darling and cute and fun and all, I much prefer running errands on my own.

At 11 a.m., Babygirl and YoungestBoy and I were standing in the parking lot of our pool club, waiting for the Easter Egg hunt to begin. The twins are officially "too old" for Easter Egg hunting, so they stayed home with my husband. The rain had stopped and I commented to another mom, "Wow, aren't we lucky? I thought it would rain all morning." The cold rain resumed, however, the second the kids began hunting for eggs.

But what's a little precipitation among friends? Babygirl and another two year old were the only ones in their age group, so they each easily scooped up a basket full of plastic eggs. YoungestBoy filled his bucket, too.

We were home long enough for me to clean up the kitchen and start a new load of laundry. Then I took YoungestBoy to a birthday party, this one at a YMCA swimming pool. While the other kids his age frolicked in the safety of life-jackets, he swam underwater, bobbing up for air. This kid loves the water.

When he jumped into the pool, I found a seat on the bleachers with another mom. I didn't know this particular mom, so I introduced myself. She told me she was Lauren's mom and I remembered how YoungestBoy had a crush on Lauren in kindergarten. We chatted as moms on the sidelines tend to do and then I said, "So, do you have other children?" and the second the words escaped my mouth, I remembered with dismay that this was the mom whose two-year old daughter died not long ago.

I said something like, "Oh, I'm sorry. I just remembered--you lost a child, didn't you?" We got past that awkward moment and then I gently asked, "How are you doing?" and gave her the opportunity to talk about her daughter and her loss.

The two year old had a liver disorder, of unknown cause. She had surgery as a newborn and doctors told her parents she'd eventually need a liver transplant. When she was two, they found a perfect match and proceeded with the transplant. Things went terribly wrong and two days before Christmas, she died of complications. The doctors had assured them that there was a ninety-eight percent chance the surgery would be a success, but she died anyway.

And then, less than three months later, I had to ask, "So, do you have other children?"

I thought of other friends I know, how they hate that people are afraid to talk about their lost children, of how people shy away from them, afraid of saying the wrong thing. I can only hope that I did the right thing, said the right thing, listened the right way. If Babygirl died today, I'd want to die, too. But if I lived, I'd want to talk about her endlessly, about the fine blond hair that curls just so above her ears, about the repetoire of songs she sings when she's supposed to be napping, about the way she dances and urges me to dance, too.

Some days are like this post, I guess. You complain because you can't sleep in and joke about your smooth thumbnail and before you know it, you are looking into the sad eyes of a mom with a loss like a giant black hole. Where do you possibly go from there? At the end, you thank God for the children you are so tired of picking up after, rub your thumbnail as if it will cause a genie to appear to do your bidding ("Pick up this mess! Finish the laundry! Wash the windows!") and go to bed, whispering an extra prayer for the mom at the pool who'd give anything to have her daughter back in her arms.


Blogger Smoov said...

I literally sucked my breath in when I imagined one of my two year olds dying right now! As much trouble that they can be and as much frustration they have cause me over the last two years, I can't even being to imagine my life without them in it. Or with my 9 year old either. It is odd how when we are pregnant, we think endlessly about this new life and how it will change ours, and then, just a few years after the birth, it is as if they had always been a part of the family and no one can really imagine them not being there. Each child fits in the family perfectly.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

We have had a death of a child in the family (extended), and I think you did exactly the right thing by allowing her to tell you about her child. Unconscious slips are just that, and people don't dwell on them when you then do the right thing -- which you did.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Angi said...

Two of my 3 sister in law's have lost children. I consider myself very lucky to have all of mine. We don't ignore the boys that are gone, we talk about them, we share funny, sweet memories, and generally just smile about having shared their lives for a short time.

Whether she ever knows it or not, the mom at the pool had an extra prayer last night, she was in mine too.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

wow, what a great gift you gave that mom. and me, because I could always use the reminder to be thankful for what I have. my baby turns 2 today, and I, too, would die if she did.

3:00 PM  

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