I was afraid to invite people to go with us, afraid no one would come. Then I invited people anyway.
No one could come.
I was, strangely enough, okay with that. Relieved might be a better word. It would be hard enough for me to be there without feeling like I had to "host" other people who had come with us.
I was still stressed out about the whole thing last year. I met up with a friend to have coffee the day before the walk and ended up having a slight meltdown and crying in the coffee shop. Looking back, I don't know why I was filled with so much dread, except that I didn't know what to expect.
This year, we went with relatively little fanfare. I signed up and put it on the calendar. My friend Angie picked up our shirts for me. I didn't invite other people to join us, figuring they were busy anyway. David and I wore our event-issued "I have footprints on my heart" t-shirts and Zuzu wore her rainbow hat with her "little sister" bow attached to it.
The weather was chilly, but not bad in the sunshine. We ran into friends--some friends (Hi, Angie, Katie, & Kim!) we met through a grief support group and some friends we met through other social circles and then discovered we were connected in grief also--and we stood with them, Zuzu in her stroller. We listened to a poem and a variation of a song I happen to like.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
I cried, but it was a soft kind of crying, easy to start and easy to stop.
|I do not think we look like ourselves in this picture.|
|Eliza's three balloons.|
There were over 2,500 people there, not all of them parents, but all of them missing a baby. As I listened to the names being read, I thought about all the babies that might have been, babies whose parents I probably wouldn't know if we weren't connected by loss, babies I feel like I love and miss myself because I know how loved and missed they are by their parents... Otis and Andrew and Jack and Hayes and Olivia and Cale and Max and Bear and Anna and Elizabeth and William and Ethan and Julius and Aiden and Ava and Camille and Margot and George and Charlotte and and Aliya and Bennett and Leah and Libby and Andy and and Mason and Finley and Cutu and Norah and Scotlyn and Reese and Teddy and Liam and Evelynn and Levi and... I probably shouldn't have even started that list because I know it could go on and on and on.
It's almost impossible for me to consider the vast numbers of people who have experienced loss and to associate that knowledge with the understanding I have of the way our life was so completely shattered by Eliza's death. How can there be so many broken and grieving parents in this world? Because, believe me, they are everywhere. And most of the time, you definitely can't tell by looking.
|Thanks to our friend Rob for taking this picture!|