The Sorrow of Knowing

My friend was sentenced to hell today. She didn’t do anything to deserve this sentence. She only loved her child. Fiercely, thoroughly, to the point of self-destruction. In other words, like a parent. She loved him through 37 weeks of pregnancy. Through terrifying sonograms, steadily more horrifying diagnoses, several doctors, and a Caesarean birth. She loved him for ten treasured days in her arms. And she loved him as he left her.

Anyone reading that paragraph will know this is a tragic story. What is even more tragic is that she has been in hell before, many times. Can there be a truer love than risking a hell you’ve already known and struggled to survive? Miscarriage after miscarriage, a tooth and nail battle (or, more accurately, needle and bruise battle) with a blood clotting disorder to give birth to her one living daughter, years of loss and grief…all of this she survived. She knew what was coming. For months, she knew her darling boy was unlikely to survive. But months of holding him within were better than weeks. Holding him fully formed was better than not holding him at all. Loving him for days was better than not having him to love. Missing him is better than only dreaming him. Somehow, it is.

Next to my friend, my three miscarriages seem like a drop in the bucket. I know the volume of pain I have carried. My imagination buckles under the weight of the thought of her more than doubled pain. I have spent the last ten days mentally straining, trying to magically will her happy moments to magnify, expand, to somehow encompass enough space to balance out the years of pain ahead. I have dreaded the end of those moments. I have raged against whatever power allows this to happen. I have raged against my own inability to fix it, salve it, delay it. I have remembered, vividly, every stage of my own pain. I wish that all of that could help.

I know that I cannot do this for her. I know it is a path she has to walk. I know eventually the path will grow brighter, less hopeless, easier to tread. I know that day will not come soon. I also know that I will walk it with her. Our paths are not exactly the same. My path has been easier for awhile now; only sometimes does it dip into the deep shadows. But I have seen the shadows, and I can find her there, even in the dark. I can hold her hand, even if I can’t pretend to know the way out. I can carry the lantern, and the extra blankets, and I can bring snacks. It’s not much, but I hope it helps. There aren’t really any pretty words to say, any magic spells to lift the pain. But I will be there beside her, whether she knows it or not, every step of the way.

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