I haven’t said much about my support group here, mainly because there hasn’t been much to say. Everything that is said in those groups is private information, just for that group. What I can share is that I walked into this group two and a half months ago not wanting to join and thinking I would not be able to connect with these people. I don’t know why, because I didn’t know anything about them, other than knowing that they also had lost a child (or children, in some situations). Since that time, they have become our friends: friends that I hope we’ll always have. They’re people that we probably never would have crossed paths with otherwise, and people we have very little in common with, aside from our tragedies, but I’ve come to love them as though we’ve known them our whole lives.
We received an invitation in the mail this week to a memorial service being held at one of the hospitals here. It’s a service for babies who have passed away. I cried when I read it, first because it was a reminder of this badge that Dave and I will always wear: we’re parents who have lost a baby. It has become part of our identities, and even if we’re not defined by it, we will never be the people we once were. It’s difficult to explain, but sometimes the reminders of this are heart-wrenching.
My crying became more intense when I saw the date. We’re going to be out of town. While I was sad that we’ll miss the opportunity to honor Jillian and share the story of her amazing life (although I’m sure we’ll be invited to the next one), I was more upset about the fact that we’ll miss the opportunity the honor the lives of the children of our friends from the support group. I love these babies that I never had the opportunity to meet, and they will always be in my heart. It makes me ache to know that we won’t be there to listen to their parents tell their stories, to cry with them, and to hug them when they’re finished.
We had some members of the group over to our place last night (others were not able to make it), and after everyone left, I told Dave that while I will never see a bright side to Jillian’s death, I am thankful that her life brought us to these amazing people. I wish none of us had to be part of our group, but I’m glad we all have each other.