| Words Unspoken |

To My Dearest Friend

Although I didn’t get to choose these circumstances, I’ve been granted a gift


To My Dearest Friend,

It’s strange how the simplest statements can trigger emotional tsunamis.

Last night, after speaking to you on the phone, I tried to make sense of the pain that washed over me. Don’t get me wrong, I harbor no feelings of resentment against you. I just thought it would be helpful to sit down and write a letter that gives you a glimpse into my reality.

When I called to wish you mazel tov on your newest addition, you responded with the classic “Im yirtzeh Hashem by you.” Innocent enough. Except that what you don’t know is that for me, my youngest will always be my baby.

We live in a culture where large families are the norm, and where women our age still have years of childbearing to look forward to. My reality, however, is different. My small precious family, for which I am forever grateful, will not welcome the addition of any new brothers or sisters.

Recovering from surgery, I was so thankful to just be alive. I knew, though, that when the euphoria of my gratitude would dissipate, the gravity of my loss would set in. And so it has. While still grateful, I grieve. Like with any significant loss, my emotions fluctuate as the pain peaks and dips.

It’s not only comments like yours, or the mothers sporting cute maternity outfits, that awaken the pain. It’s often the simple tasks and common milestones we mothers experience that trigger the emotional roller-coaster rides.

Like the plastic bin of outgrown clothing I just filled and gave away. For me, it was a lot more than a box of outfits and stretchies. It was a box full of memories, a box of whispered goodbyes to another stage and chapter in my life.

And that’s just for the simple, mundane tasks. The joyous milestones that others eagerly anticipate are the wildest roller-coaster rides. Those special occasions always involve conflicting feelings — the beautiful upsheren enmeshed with the final goodbye to babyhood, the excitement of the first day of kindergarten entwined with the echo of the door slamming on toddlerhood.

Knowing that every stage that passes is the last of its kind, I have an intense desire to live in the moment, to be truly present, and to sear the memories of those precious times into my being. Knowing there’ll be no more chances for me, I want to do it right and do it well.

I’ve come to recognize that although I didn’t get to choose these circumstances, I’ve been granted a gift. While I dwell on the pain of my loss (which, being human, I need to do) I can also embrace the silver lining of my reality. And while I know I will sometimes stumble in my fog of pain, I hope that (perhaps with your help) I can find the glitter of that gift.

I can rejoice in what I do have, and realize that owing to my circumstances, I’ve been granted the vision to slow down and focus, to treasure each stage, and to really see and appreciate my children for who and what they are today.

And so dear friend, yes, that “Im yirtzeh Hashem by you” drove a dagger into my heart. But while I nurse my pain, I want to share my gift with you.

Life is hectic and those sleepless nights are exhausting, but you too, can slow down, live in the moment, and fully cherish the precious times with your little boy.

Because really, do any of us know what tomorrow will bring?

Thanks for listening,

Your Best Friend

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 715)

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    S.G.’s letter was beautiful. As someone who also lost the chance to have more children at a young age, I deeply related to the sentiments expressed in the original Words Unspoken, and appreciated S.G.’s desire to comfort her by telling her that this is not her “last” child — soon she will have grandchildren. Since she herself knows the pain we’ve gone through, and is coming from a place of understanding and true empathy, I was able to hear it from her. But I would like to point out that when someone is desperately longing for another child of her own, and is still young, surrounded by friends and relatives having one baby after another, assuring her that she’ll have grandchildren one day feels not only hollow but invalidating.
    When I was told that, I felt like screaming, “I don’t want a grandchild, I want my own child!” Please don’t brush o or cover over someone’s brutal pain of knowing she’ll never bring another baby into the world, the ache that lodges itself in her heart, never to fully dissipate. Please don’t give me comfort that ignores what I want most of all.