She had been calling me for weeks, saying that we need to get together. I was honestly in no frame of mind to get together with anyone. I avoided phone calls. I slept a lot. I did my best to try not distract myself from feeling the loss of the kids that I had mothered for three years and the husband I had loved for longer. Since I don't drink, sleep was the best distraction.
Jill Gierucki is one of my best girlfriends. She was my teacher's assistant in my first teaching job, and we spent hours loving kids and muddling through a whole year's worth of curriculum that I was certainly unqualified to teach. We have been together through changing seasons and boyfriends and churches and jobs. We fought a little and forgave and came back together to attend each other's weddings and to see each other happy. We have spent hours shopping and scrapbooking and drinking coffee and eating ice cream and talking about our lives and relationships.
But during this particular time, I was struggling. I was having a difficult time keeping up my friendships, mainly because I didn't want to talk to anyone. Talking about things, saying them out loud, made them more real and more capable of hurting me. So it was easier to not talk about them. Which meant I had to avoid friends because friends like to talk. But after several weeks, I knew I had to give in and call her. It was work, really, to pick up the phone and call anyone. I did it, though, and we made plans to have dinner.
As I drove through Nashville, on the hour drive from my place to Demos' restaurant, where I was meeting Jill, I called my mom. This day had been a particularly bad one, and I was stuck in "this is not fair" mode. Why hadn't my marriage worked? Why couldn't we have kids? Why did I lose the ones that I spent time and energy to raise? And didn't I deserve to have a normal husband and a normal family? I cried as I drove past the Nashville skyline, trying to keep my eyes clear enough to see the road. My mom listened and reassured me, and I did my best to pull myself together long enough to have dinner with Jill.
We sat in a table in one of the back corners of the restaurant. I ordered what I always order from Demos', a 7 oz. sirloin with spaghetti cooked with brown butter and garlic and a sweet tea. Jill nervously held a little white envelope in her hand as we talked. Then, she couldn't wait any longer, and she handed me the envelope of pictures. "I want you to see my baby", she said. I opened the envelope to find sketchy black and white ultrasound pictures of the most perfect little baby. My instant reaction was to cry. I was happy for her, don't get me wrong. I was thrilled that she and her husband Bobby were going to have a baby. But I was sad for me. I was sad that the things that I wanted, she was getting. I have no idea what I said at the time, how I explained my tears. I guess maybe she thought they were tears of joy, and they were. Halfway, anyway. But her happiness what a reminder of what I didn't have, couldn't have, right then. And that moment was just as painful as it was precious.
Thankfully, a new job moved me closer to Jill, and I was able to be there to see her growing belly. I attended her baby shower, where we all oohed and aahed at the tiny baby things she opened. I was genuinely happy for her when sweet little Abby arrived, all fragile and pink. I felt helpless as Jill struggled through her first months of interrupted sleep and was proud of how she sweetly adjusted to her new life as a mom. And when Bobby and Jill needed a night out, I was right there, proud to be Abby's first non-family babysitter.
Last time I was in Nashville, I went to visit the growing Gierucki family. Sweet little Aiden was born last summer, and Abby is now a big sister. Both kids had just gotten up from a nap, and I got to hold Aiden with his sweet, kissable cheeks. We sat out in the sun on their back patio, enjoying the break from the weird tornado weather that had been. The sky was beautiful and so was the time spent with their little family. I mentioned that I was still a little jealous of her little life with two small children and playdates and potty training. She said that she was a little jealous of my life of singleness and freedom. And I thought of the line in the book Bittersweet.... we are all yearning for something. A small waistline. A kid-free trip to anywhere. A baby. Another baby. Friendship. A boyfriend. A husband. Financial freedom. A youthful reflection in the mirror. Non sagging body parts. Purpose. Fulfillment.
The yearning isn't wrong. It just is. And some of the things we yearn for are things that are lost forever. But not all of them. Some of them are just around the corner and will be here before we know it.
I am getting married, and I am hopeful that we will see no obstacles to the typical "Get married, have babies" plan. And Jill, who is several years ahead of me in the mothering game, will see her kids get older and go to school and she will have some of the freedom that she is missing right now. And when we both finally get to that place where we think we want to be, we will be thankful for what we have, but will probably yearning for something else. That is life. It's just the way things go, and that is fine.
The view behind Bobby and Jill's house.
Jill and Aiden
Sweet Abby, all grown up
I love these babies.