to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.
I started this post assuming that the subject was about envy. I looked up envy in the dictionary - a feeling of discontent over another's success. I really like the quote above, but for me envy means longing and longing doesn't have to mean jealousy. Whatever we call it envy, longing, desire, it comes from events ensuing around me as well as the purest feeling I have ever known, love for my child.
Over the next six months, we will (hopefully) receive 11 announcements of babies born to friends from all stages of my life. I shared this at our grief group last night and a collective gasp went up in the room. They get it. I would never want one of these babies to die, but all around us, our friends are embracing new life while we are facing our daughter's death. The one baby we want most, we will never physically have here with us again.
In the midst of this, I am dealing with some of my own internal struggles. As I long for another child, I picture myself in a hospital with a child snuggled in my arms. How will I respond? Joy? Unfelt grief of what I have lost...that I will never have Cara? Another child never replaces Cara, but will another child set forth a new wave of grief.
I talked to the leader of our group last night. Her son died at 2 and a half over 30 years ago. He was her only child at the time, and she went on to have two beautiful daughters. She said there is joy, but there is grief. Lighter moments come, but the grief never goes away completely. I'll always long for the child who should also be here.
Our counselor encouraged me early in my grieving to embrace other people's joy as my own. THAT'S CRAZY to tell a grieving mother. I blew it off at the time thinking it impossible, but since have caught glimpses of what he meant. Most recently, a friend was over for lunch with her little girl born several months before Cara. As they were getting ready to leave, I sat with her daughter in my lap, putting her shoes on, and my heart just swelled with love for this little girl. If she had stayed with me that day, I could have loved her as my own. At the end of our visits, she ultimately goes home with her mommy, but dances delight into the days that I see her.
So maybe it's not jealousy or envy, maybe it's just a deep longing or desire. Could we change the quote? It is in the character of very few men to honor a friend who has prospered without similar longing. I'll caveat that by saying there many things one could long for that are not worth it. A friend receiving a hefty promotion and longing for that, this is not what I'm talking about. Longing for a child is different. Maybe we just scratch the quote altogether and just call it a point from which I started this post. Coming full circle through feelings of sorrow and joy and pain and happiness. Such is my world these days...