I have to start this post with a foreword (I guess this comes with the territory of writing a blog that people actually read). When my mama- and daddy-friends read this, I just want you to know that I love you, I love being with you, I love your children, and nothing that you have ever done has caused me any pain, so please, please, please don’t feel bad when you read this. Please. The pain is just there, whether we like it or not, and this is where I process it. It just is what it is, no matter what we do or say about it.
Here’s the thing. I knew from early on that being around my friends’ kids who are near Hudson’s age would be hard. At the hospital on the day Hudson died, I remember saying to Ed that I did not know how we could possibly go on seeing our dear friends and watching their children grow up when Hudson never would. Watching their kids graduate to toddler beds, potty train, learn to talk in sentences, learn to ride bikes, learn to swim, play at the beach, pick berries, have fun with their friends. I knew all of these things would be hard—every moment would be loaded with thoughts of what Hudson would be like doing those things. This is why my love affair with Facebook has become a love-hate relationship.
But I also knew that at some point, I would have to deal with it. We are just at that age where the vast majority of our friends have children, and the vast majority of their children were born within a year or so of Hudson. At the very beginning, I tried it on for size, snuggling with all the babies at the memorial services and at our house when their parents visited. I think I thought I was OK, but I know that part of me was just trying. Really hard. Then, about three weeks after Hudson died, we all went out to celebrate our dear friend Renee’s birthday at our local joint where we usually did our moms’ happy hour. Everyone came—moms, dads, and babies. I was OK at the beginning, but as the evening wore on, I began to feel like I was floating outside myself—I could hear myself talking and interacting, but I was totally detached from the scene. By the time the evening was over, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to be around those kiddos for a long time. I was broken.
But I had anticipated that. What I never anticipated, or even considered (again, how these things elude me until they happen is just beyond me) is the incredible envy I would feel of my closest friends. Today, I had lunch at a dear friend’s house. This friend is a mommy-champ, truly one of my mom heroes—her daughter was born six months before Hudson, so our pregnancies overlapped for a few fun months, and I often looked to her for advice about how to handle everything from sleep to feeding solid foods. We’ve had lunch at her house on many, many occasions in the past, both before and after Hudson died. Since Hudson died, my friend has tried hard to make sure her sweet daughter is down for her nap by the time I get there. But her little one is recently potty-trained and has been fighting her nap, so when I arrived today, my friend was still working to get her off the potty and into bed, and later, when she woke up early and still tired, my friend did all the right things, soothing and comforting a still slightly grumpy little girl.
Watching them together, I certainly felt, as I always do, sorrow for all the things that Hudson will never get to do. But for the first time, I recognized the terrible jealousy I feel of my friends themselves when watching them parent their kids or hearing about their interactions with their kids. I miss mothering Hudson almost as much as I miss Hudson herself. As I just wrote recently, being unable to mother her has stripped me of the most central part of myself. As it turns out, seeing and hearing about my friends in action with their kids is as hard or harder than seeing the kids themselves. And frankly, it just sucks to feel jealous of your best friends, especially when you love them so much and when they are working so hard to love and support you, and doing a damn fine job of it, too.
The layers of loss just keep appearing. And I have to just keep peeling them back and exposing the raw skin underneath. It hurts. Bad.