Sunday, December 19, 2010

I wish you cod pit the baby

Since Eliza died, we've gotten so many cards.

I've read online about women who could not face the sympathy cards.  They did not want to open them, to read the condolences, to face the reality that so many people pitied them because of their great loss.

I guess can understand that.  I feel plenty sorry for myself, but thinking about the way other people pity me is like another kind of heartbreak. 

But still, I welcome the sympathy cards.

I grab the stack of them and I curl up on the couch to open them and I weep over each and everyone.

But it's a cathartic kind of weeping.  The kind of crying that makes it easier to breathe when you're finished.  

I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the senders--a male teacher and coach who worked with David at his old job (whom I always thought was SO cute), friends of David's grandparents whom we must have met at some point, but who realized that we would likely not remember them and so wrote underneath their names, "friends of your grandparents."  Of course, I appreciate those who have been through this too and who share their story and offer us some hope, especially those we don't know very well--a former colleague of David's, parents of students at David's school, a woman we've met a couple of times at church--who write to say "This happened to us too.  We know how you feel and we are so, so sorry."

The kindness of this gesture--this $3 card and stamp and signature, it is priceless to me.  Even the cards that come from people I don't know, from people who have met David at his new job and who have never met me.  I appreciate their sympathy.  I am grateful for their prayers.

I see it as a recognition of our daughter, as an acknowledgment of her life and death and the grief it brings.  I am thankful for it. 

I keep these cards stacked up in a big pile.  The stack is now taller than the box from the hospital that contains Eliza's things.  See these cards?  I want to tell her.  That's how many people love you.  That's how many people will remember you.  Plus more.  This doesn't even account for the people who have e-mailed me.  Nor does it account for the friends who have been here, bringing food, sitting on the couch, crying with us.  See these cards?  I want to say.  They're only the beginning.

I got some very sweet e-mails from my students.  I'm impressed by them because I'm not sure whether I would have e-mailed a professor in the same circumstances.  And sometimes they were awkward--one student offered me his "apologies" for what happened.  Another student offered her sincere condolences and then said "Hope you enjoy your winter break!"  Yeah, I'll get right on that.  But still.  They mean well.  They made an effort.

We've also gotten some cards from students at David's school.  A few were terribly inappropriate.

"Didn't their parents or teachers see this?  Couldn't someone have edited this before they gave it to us?" I asked David, laughing and crying over a sympathy card from a 5th grader that read, "Sorry about your baby!  Hope you have another one!"

I think it was the exclamation points that really killed me.

Another painfully inappropriate was made from construction paper with "Sorry for your loss (over)" carefully printed in marker on the front.  The other side of the card was red and had "Go Cards!" printed on it.   

So, your average nine-year-old's consideration of what would cheer up Mr. Duckworth:  a new baby and a winning season for the Cardinals.

Hell, now that I think about it, I suppose either one of those wouldn't hurt.  Eventually.  It's just that most people are just too polite to mention that sort of thing.

Some of the other students' cards are really sweet.  One student wrote that she thinks her sister Rebecca is watching over Baby Eliza in heaven.  Another card said, "You are in our prayers and there is hope in your heart."

I hung one of my favorites up on the fridge.  It was made on three ring notebook paper and drawn in pencil.  The drawing is of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and an army tank.  The caption at the top reads, "Something Good will Happen." 

Perhaps the best one we got was written by a kindergartener.  It took us a minute to decipher it, but it essentially says what all of the Hallmark cards say, without any of the vagueness.

"I wish you cod pit the baby," it reads, "I am sarre.  I am sade."

"I wish you what?" David said, looking at the card.  I took it from him and studied it carefully.

"Pit...  No, it's git!" I said, reading it out loud, "I wish you could get the baby!  I am sorry.  I am sad."

We looked at each other and then David wrapped his arms around me.

Oh, God.  Yeah.  I wish we could get the baby, too.


  1. After some of the insensitive crap that you will eventually (sadly) hear from adults, I wouldn't be surprised if the parents in some of those cases really did see the card and didn't realize how inappropriate or insensitive it was. There was a former co-worker who said to me, "I'm so sorry about that whole 'incident'" (yes, she called it a freaking incident)and then after barely pausing, "So are you trying again now?". I'm sorry you are already experiencing some of the crappy comments, but unfortunately it doesn't stop.

  2. I'm glad you've gotten sweet cards and emails, too, though. I felt the same way about the cards in general as you do, that they were validating our daughter's life.

  3. Glad you guys have been feeling an outpouring of support from those in our lives. I still have our stack of cards in Lily's nursery and sometimes like to look through them, they brought me a lot of comfort. Hope you continue to feel the love and thoughts of many surrounding you guys. Loved the part about the T-rex card and the little girls card, if only adults could take some guidance and leave their words simple and sweet. Thinking of you and continuing to wish you strength ((hugs))

  4. Your blog has made me cry everyday, but today, I also laughed. What sweet cards.

  5. Oh my gosh. Hilarious & horrifying at the same time. But yes, you treasure every one because they're an acknowledgement of your child's existence & impact on the world. I still have all the cards I received, & as you said, some of them came from the most unexpected places.

  6. i'm glad there are so many people out there who care and who will remember your beautiful baby.

  7. Oh the last card just makes me cry. I keep our cards in a box along with ultrasound pictures and things I had saved from my pregnancy. I haven't gone back to read them yet. Hmmm...maybe soon. I also received cards from others who had lost a baby. Those meant so much to me. I vowed that I, too, would write to others should I hear of their loss in distant social circles. It's like a secret society...we babylost moms. And we are sworn to lift up those newly entering our paths.