A week after my miscarriage, my best friend arrived at my door, gift bag in hand. Muffled knocks filtered through layers of blankets – three soft raps, gentle and unpretentious. I wanted to meet them, to open the door and my bleeding heart to the person standing there, but I was pinned to my bed by an invisible weight. Her knocks went unanswered, tissue-wrapped tokens left on a chilly doorstep.
When things get hard, I retreat. Instead of reaching out, I spiral inward, convinced that peace is a self-paved road. It’s not, of course, but suffering is like those drunk goggles they make you wear in junior high. One minute things looks harmlessly fuzzy and the next you’re running into walls and stepping on toes, leaving people wondering when you became such an asshole.
Last weekend, over pale ales and Irish coffees, she brought up that day five Aprils ago.
“I knew you were home,” she said. “I knew you were ignoring me.”
But she wasn’t angry, not even a little.
My stomach sank. How do you justify the unjustifiable?
I’m sorry. I couldn’t say the words. I couldn’t look you in the eye and tell you what had happened because I still didn’t believe it myself. And then there’s what came next – two babies you’ll love as your own if circumstances ever demand it (queen of catastrophizing indeed) and the postpartum torment that followed. Lord knows I can’t begin to fix that mess, let alone rationalize your absence from it.
How do you justify the unjustifiable?
You sit and listen as your friend tells you, between Hanson replays and blurry Snapchats, that you don’t have to fix anything – that your friendship’s never been about avoiding or defending mistakes. You nod, overwhelmed with appreciation no words will ever do justice, as she reminds you that even abandoning her at your front door can’t scare her off – that she’s there for the long haul, no matter how much you push her away. And when she makes her single request known, you smile at her through glistening eyes and give her the only thing you have left – your pathetically inadequate word.
“Next time, just call me.”
I’ve never been the greatest friend, and this post should probably be about turning that around. Instead, it’s about messing up – over and over and over again – and my people still choosing to love me anyway.
This post is a thank you.
And a promise to keep trying.