I wrote this a few days ago and intended to keep it to myself, but I can't. I need to put it out there. On top of the subject covered here, I just found out that a friend I went to school with, a friend who is my age, 24, has been diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She has a little boy. I saw her at the Harry Potter book 7 release and she was fine, at that point her mother was fighting cancer, but my friend was healthy. She's my age. She was fine. And now she isn't. I wish I could make that better, too.
I've never lost anyone, you know. Sure, my grandparents are all gone, but they passed on long before close bonds had ever been made, before I knew them at all really, and it seems right that sometimes grandparents leave us, even while we are still children. My uncle passed away a few years ago, and although I loved him it didn't hit me hard. He was my favorite uncle, truth be told, but I hadn't seen him much in quite a few years and when he passed it didn't feel it keenly. I was sad, of course, sad for my aunt and my cousins and their children, sad that the wonderful man in my childhood memories was no longer among us, but not like this. I don't know how to feel like this. And the truth is, it isn't my pain I feel, but the pain of a dear friend, the pain I can imagine when I look at my own children, the pain I've forced myself to visualize in the past until I could no longer bear it. But she cannot look away. It is her baby and it is happening. My heart is so broken for her, I can't think of them or speak of them without the pain bubbling up in my soul and spilling from my eyes. If my body cannot hold this small approximation of what she is feeling, how can her body hold the full measure?
This is not my story to write and yet, I am. Because I can do nothing else. I grieve in words and phrases and I cannot keep them silent. I cannot breathe or think or speak without their names on the back of my tongue, wriggling to the forefront of my mind. I cannot sleep without seeing their faces, without waking each half hour to be sure my phone is working, to be sure I haven't missed a call. The call. I cannot look at my children without thinking of hers. I cannot snuggle in beside them without thinking of her snuggled next to Jacob, breathing every moment of him in, without realizing that elsewhere in the world there are mothers who know these moments are limited and can no longer see them stretching toward infinity. I cannot listen to my children's discord without thinking how damn lucky I am to hear them bickering, because it means they are both together and with me. I cannot kiss their feverish foreheads in the night without knowing they will recover, but some children do not; that knowledge a lump in my throat. And so I write, because these things are not all that often spoken of and they deserve to be. I can't help but bear her grief and shoulder a bit of the pain, because Katie's heart just cannot hold it all on her own. And neither can the wee hearts of these precious children.