I wrote this post two years ago.
I could pretty much have written this part of it today:
We went to a BBQ at a friend's house over the weekend. There were five couples there. Among the ten of us, there are nine kids.
(And one dead baby.)
Four of these couples (including us) were pregnant in 2010. There was a little girl there who is five months older than Eliza would have been. A little boy who is two months older than Eliza would have been. Another little boy who is one month younger than Eliza would have been.
They are so big, these kids. Big, and gorgeous, and funny, and they say big words and talk in whole sentences and wear big kid shoes and have hair that requires brushing and they ate dinner sitting in little chairs at tiny tables and not wearing bibs.
We had plans to have a Christmas dinner party with this group of friends the week after Eliza died. David and I didn't make that dinner party. Or any parties after that. For a very, very long time. We've gone to dinner with the adults in the group a couple of times in the past year or so, and I meet up with the girls on a pretty regular basis, but this was the first time since Eliza died that we were around everybody with all the kids.
It was fine--I didn't want to have a meltdown or anything. It was nice to see everyone and to see how big the babies are getting--there's also a little boy who's a month older than Zu and a little girl who's a month younger (both have older siblings). Zuzu and Evie even wrestled a bit over the Cozy Coupe.
But David and I talked on the way home about how much we miss Eliza when we are with all of these families-of-four.
It just never stops sucking. The "big" little girls are taking dance lessons. My friends are talking potty training and crib-to-bed transitions and where these kids will go to kindergarten. I can listen to these conversations without crying (that's called progress, my friends!). I don't even have to fake interest or pretend to be okay when it feels like my insides are melting. I can really handle it. But there is something totally surreal and breathtaking about watching my best friends live my alternative life--the one I might have had if both my babies had lived instead of just one.
These days, I don't feel bitter or angry or resentful about it. I'm happy for them and I love their kids. I just feel sad for me. I just want it to be me, too, buying leotards and ballet slippers and princess underwear. I just want Eliza in the mix.
It's a million times easier than it was--I mean there was a time when I couldn't be around any kids who were close to Eliza's age and not lose it. But it also struck me what a life sentence it is that we're facing. Their kids will always be doing stuff that Eliza will never do at precisely the time she would have done it. Their lives will always be eighteen months ahead of mine when it comes to raising kids. Their families will always be complete while mine will always have someone missing.
I remember my mom telling me about a classmate of hers who died in grade school, and how every milestone of his classmates--driving, prom, graduation, and then college graduations and weddings and class reunions--was one more thing his mom witnessed as a reminder of all her son had missed out on.
I would have never thought it would hurt the same for a baby who never lived outside my belly. I could have never imagined that my love for her didn't require her to be alive. I would have never understood how much I would mourn both my daughter's life and the life I would have had if she'd lived.
I'm grateful my friendships have survived the wreckage. I think I need to try harder because my instinct for so long was to distance myself from things like family BBQ's and kids birthday parties (we haven't been to a single one besides Zuzu's since Eliza died) and I know we've missed so much.
It's just that we still miss her. So much.
Grief gets so much easier to live with--shockingly easy, to the extent that it sometimes feels like a betrayal.
But when you boil it down to the part where she was here--or she was thisclose to being here--and now she's gone... That part still makes me crumple. And I guess it always will.