This happens with some regularity. Today it happened to me four times in a span of two-and-a-half hours. I'll run into a friend or acquaintance I haven't seen since Anne Marie's death. With great earnestness this person will approach me and tell me that he or she had followed Anne Marie's story on this blog and is terribly sorry for Susie's and my loss. Oftentimes the person will tell me the particular ways our family's journey has affected them.
As the person begins to speak -- literally, no more than three seconds into the conversation -- I start to get (sorry, but I don't know of a better word here) verklempt. If I allowed myself, I could start weeping on the spot. Easily. But I don't, because (1) that would be embarrassing, and (2) I don't want the person to feel he or she has dug up painful memories and has sent me into a tailspin. Because truly, that's not what the tears would be about.
Here's what's really going on. As the person begins to speak, these thoughts rush in, pretty much in this order: (1) She's dead. My baby really is dead. (2) This person knows about her life. I am so pleased and gratified this person knows her story. (3) This person, even though it may be uncomfortable for him, is making the effort to express these things to me. This is very kind, and edifying, and comforting, and I am truly moved by what's happening here.
Oftentimes the person will say, "I really don't know what to say." But in fact, they needn't worry. Anyone who cares enough to make the effort, and who is sensitive enough to fear their words may be inadequate, is someone whose words (whatever they are) are treasured. This has been my experience every time.
"I'm sorry Anne Marie died," the five-year-old girl said to me this evening at Jack Henry's batting practice. She just came up and announced it to me. (Five-year-olds aren't always big on context.) She said she had been thinking about it lately. You think that wasn't a gift to me?
Sorry, but I'm getting ...
Talk amongst yourselves.