I never knew emptiness could weigh so much, she said. I can barely hold it. So I sat beside her & reached for her hand & we held it together.
Matters of the heart defy physics. For physicists would say that 'empty' is weightless and therefore simple and easy and effortless to carry. But when your arms crave the soft weight of a sleeping baby and you're told no baby is on the way, your heart and soul feel as empty as your arms. However, instead of feeling light and airy, your heart feels heavy and downtrodden. You feel paralyzed and disoriented and alone and confused.
And then people show up. They show up beside you, ready to loan their hearts to you while yours is mending. Some speak words of wisdom and insight. Some offer their own personal stories of heartache and survival. Some invite you over for supper, rescuing you from the proximity of the empty chair at the table. Some send flowers. Some send texts. Some ask you, "How are you really doing?" and then squeeze your hand as you whisper, "Not that great." Some e-mail you and say things like "this sucks" "life can be so shitty" "wish I was there to hug you tight". Others just say "I can't stop thinking about you" and "You're in my thoughts". And right there, you feel comforted. You know they can't do anything to change the circumstances, but knowing they are there is helpful enough.
It's only been eleven days since we heard the silence of that ultrasound. And in those eleven days, we've received so much support and love from our friends and family. It's a little humbling, actually. But I wanted to extend this thank you to those of you who have reached out, who have called or texted or sent cards or emailed or shown up at our doorstep. It can be so awkward to know what to say or do when a friend or neighbor is weathering a storm. It can be much easier to silently pray for them or think about them, rather than reaching out to them-- especially if you have no idea where to begin. I personally, have meant to reach out to others many times, but stopped myself because a few days or a few weeks had passed or I didn't know what to say. I've justified not reaching out by telling myself, "they probably just want to move on, not be reminded about this." But one thing I have learned in the past eleven days is that showing up means a lot.
So far, nobody has said or done anything to make my pain disappear. Nobody has been able to reverse the clock and change the outcome of our ultrasound. Nobody has been able to give me an answer for why this happened or predict the future of our family. But I have been so comforted by those of you who have simply said, "I'm so sorry. I'm just so sorry." (And I especially like it when people say, "This is so shitty. This is just so so shitty.") I've been comforted by those of you who have reached out, who have cried with me-- maybe from the comfort of your own living rooms or maybe on the other end of the phone. I've even been comforted by those who have said, "I don't know what to say," so we haven't said anything-- but just shared a sacred silent space for a moment in time.
And as I reflect on these past eleven days, and look to the future I realize that not only am I taking comfort from your support, but I'm also receiving a great life lesson-- to always reach out when someone is hurting. To avoid searching for the perfect thing to say, only to end up staying silent as a result. To know that sometimes, just showing up (maybe with dark chocolate or cookies?) and holding hands and not talking is perfect enough.