We did what all girlfriends do when it's that time. We talked about being pregnant together, raising our babies as friends and siphoning from each other the gifts we saw in each other to make parenting easier. We had been friends for years. Despite our age difference and the fact that we had little in common we genuinely did life together. We spent long hours talking, challenging each other to grow, to become, to be. Late night phone calls, tearful pleas for advice and prayers for comfort were not uncommon. It was a friendship that was both challenging and safe and those can be rare. Then we found ourselves in a place that life doesn't prepare you for. A place where friendships are often lost.
I was 40 years old and pregnant for the first time. She was 30 and had just had a miscarriage. Not at all what we had talked about, planned for or dreamed of. We wanted to be doing the joyous part of life together. Suddenly there were parts of life that weren't so joyous. She wanted to be happy for me and couldn't. Not completely. I wanted to be sitting with her in grief but couldn't. Not completely. We tip-toed around each others feelings going through the motions and making attempts to be there for each other. She came to one of my baby showers and left before everybody got there. Her way of saying, "I'm excited for you." My way of saying, "I know this is hard, please take care of you." I listened to her cry on the other end of the phone while resting my hand on a very pregnant stomach. It was difficult. Painful. Sad. For both of us. She shared in my joy as much as she was capable but I was always aware of her pain. I shared in her grief as much as I was able but she was always aware of my elation. I was an acute reminder of the miracle that she had lost. She was a reminder to me of how fragile my experience really was.
This is where I think we let many of our friendships go. When it's this difficult and there are no words. When it's painful and there are no explanations. When you can't express your feelings and the only common ground we have is that we are both human. It's easier sometimes to let go. I prayed for her. Frequently. I missed her during this time of celebration in my life. I have a deep belief that through her tears she was also praying for me. Maybe even missing me in her grief. We've never talked about it. While we were in it we didn't really know how. In the years since, I'm not sure we have needed to. In my opinion we survived it because of one amazingly courageous act. A gift to me that I've never told anybody about. I'm not sure I've even thanked her for it. Until this writing, six years later, I must admit that I haven't been able to put it into words. It was a gift to our friendship that I will never forget.
Because of my age I was considered high risk and saw the doctor frequently. I had an above average number of tests run. There were a few minor complications but nothing that caused a great deal of concern. Just enough concern however that complete peace always seemed out of reach. No matter how hard I tried to rest in the miraculous I was constantly reminded of the fragility. I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms, sometimes accompanied by my mother but usually alone. It seemed unnecessary for my husband to take off work so frequently to just wait. So I sat. Sometimes worried. Sometimes lonely. Sometimes afraid. She knew. One day I believe she sensed in my voice the fear, the concern and the apprehension of the hours I was about to spend in the waiting room. I didn't tell her. I would never have done that. Minutes after I arrived at my appointment she walked into the waiting room handed me a cup of coffee and sat down. I don't remember words. Only soft silent tears from both of us. We didn't even look at each other that I remember. She came to sit next to me. That was her gift. Her amazingly complicated and simple gift to me. All I could think about was the pain in her heart that she had ignored so that she could be there. I cried for the pain she felt. I cried for the loss she had. Mostly, I cried for the amazing gift of friendship she was extending to me at that moment. I think we both knew we were on holy ground. That's why I don't remember any words. We sat there, drank coffee, rested in the knowing of having each other and cried.