Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes. And yes, they are as good as they look / sound. Better, actually.
I have to say, I've had an epiphany recently about something I've really been struggling with. Lately I've had this intense desire to reconnect with my non-loss friends, to sort of redefine my friendships, figure out who is legit, etc. I feel like I've been looking at everyone and everything with eyes anew.
I will never have both feet in the loss community, nor will I ever have both feet in the non-loss community. I need friends in BOTH. That is vital to me. There are friends who truly HAVE stood by my side, not having any clue what it feels like to go through a fraction of what I've been through, and I could never cut them out of my life nor would I ever want to.
But so many of the friendships, now that my "raw grief" had died down (as far as they know, anyhow) seem so SAFE. I can't put my finger on it, but it's almost like we talk about the weather and Pinterest and our latest pedicures, and that's it. After my loss, such conversations (after a few months passed and I could even stomach "normal" conversation) were welcome distractions. Even today, I certainly don't want to sit around and talk about loss 24/7. Who would? But I'm sorry, to me small talk is not going to sustain a meaningful relationship over time.
Do you know what I mean? Or am I just going crazy overanalyzing everything? (Wouldn't be the first time nor the last.)
My non-loss friends may not know what it's like to lose a child, but they certainly have things going on in their lives that I would like to hear about. Maybe they hold back thinking I have enough on my plate or whatever, but I want to feel connected, and this life is NOT a competition for who has suffered the most.
I think that this recent need I comes from the realization that I have truly built some incredibly intimate bonds with women globally who share a similar experience.
When you have shared such private and life-changing experiences with others, when you've been inspired and supported and uplifted by women who themselves are fighting such battles, fighting for their very lives, how do you go about feeling that degree of closeness to someone who shares very little personal information with you?! I can see how some of the people I've known for years may feel intimidated by these new friends (not that any have ever told me that), but oh how vital they've been and continue to be. Some of them are lifelong friends now for sure. Some of us hang out in real life, some of us plan to visit one another someday, and some of us will simply always connect through the interwebs.
Oh, how I need them.
And yet I need my non-loss friends, too. I have some really amazing people in my life. So the question is this: How do I feel closer to people who haven't suffered a loss? Do I simply have to accept that many of my friendships will simply feel like surface friendships compared with the intimacy and support of women in the loss community?
You want to know what I really think?
I call BULLSH*T!
You don't have to have suffered the loss of a child to be close to someone who has. But yes, you have to accept them for who they are, for their family in its entirety, be present and abide with their grief when it comes, and allow yourself to be vulnerable and share what's going on in your life.
Not shy away and make the person feel shunned and contagious with dead baby plague. Is that too much to ask?
I also feel like people simply accept that after you get married and have kids your social life is over. Again, I call BS, plain and simple. I'm married, and that never got in the way of my social life. Starting a family has only added to my social events, not detracted from them. People who use those things as an excuse are doing just that - using them as an excuse because they don't really want to hang out with you. Plenty of women I know do maintain friendships alongside being wonderful mothers, wives, career people, students, etc. And I have several childless friends, and believe it or not - shock of all shockers - we actually find things to discuss OTHER than diapers, baby food, and strollers. Really.
All this to say, I have been learning a lot about who my real friends are over the past 17 months. The ones who were never really friends to begin with will use my grief, my children, my marriage, my eye color, my favorite pizza topping, or whatever they can as an excuse for their inability to relate to me.
We either grow together, or we grow apart, and if I can find a way to live somehow without my son, well, I think I'll manage. Let's stop kidding ourselves and each other.
Just stop stringing me along. Let go.
Thanks to the lovely Brooke for sharing the above necklace on her blog, which I promptly told my husband about and he thoughtfully and dutifully purchased for me for International Bereaved Mothers Day 2012. "I am always with you. Be brave, have courage, and love life." It's so comforting to feel that Elias would want me to know that.
And, last but not least, I do so much on FB I often neglect this space, so as a final note, I wish all of you a peaceful (albeit belated) IBMD.