Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When people ask

Ever since I was pregnant with Ethan it's been a common occurrence and I'm sorry to say that I haven't figured it out yet. Most interactions begin with "How far along?", that's an easy one. Then it is inevitably followed by "Is this your first?", that's when it gets complicated.

Let me be clear not complicated for me, I know Ethan is not my first. The answer is VERY clear in my heart and in my head. "No, this is my second. My first one is in Heaven, he's not in my arms or running around but he is still my first born." Well if you know the whole story Evan is really the third, so Ethan is the 4th and so on, see how it gets complicated? 

The thing is though, most people are not ready for a truthful answer. They are not asking because they really want to know. They just want to make conversation, like they're talking about the weather. So, here is what I haven't figured out. Sometimes, just to spare them of an awkward moment, I'll just answer "Yes, he is", and immediately after that I feel guilty. I feel I'm betraying my Evan. Does he not count? Why should I care more about this stranger than I care about honoring the place my baby boy has in my heart and our family? 

Sometimes I say "No, we have one in Heaven and he is our second", depending on the person the reactions will vary. Mostly it gets awkward and they try to change the subject. Rarely they compassionately just say "I'm so sorry!". I can count with one hands the times when their response has been of genuine interest and compassion "What happened?... I'm so sorry...", those are my favorite because it gives me the chance to share my boy with the world. When I do this I sometimes feel bad for making them feel bad or sad or awkward but at the end of the day I think, well they asked, right?

Here is what I've learned. When you ask a question you need to be ready for the answer no matter what it may be. If you don't think you are ready for the answer then don't ask! That's the cold truth. There is another side of things which I have also learned. If I hadn't gone through what I have gone through there is no way I would have the awareness I do about loss, so I can't expect everybody to have the same awareness if they haven't experienced what I have. 

So, I am just as ignorant about other people's experiences (pain, sickness, chronic sickness, different types of loss, etc) as others are about the loss I've lived through. All I can do is be kind and understanding when asked and when asking. When giving an answer and when receiving an answer I was not prepared to get. Bottom line:

It is a simple truth yet a very important one to live by. 

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