Selflessness. I'm adding selflessness to my soup today.
I realized yesterday, that people don't start out to be self-centered or self-serving. It happens gradually. It seems that in their search and hunger for more attention, power, or respect, they lose those exact things slowly, and eventually, altogether. It's my opinion that once you start to believe you are better than any one else, you couldn't be further from the truth. You become chained to the pedestal, as a servant to the title, or a slave to the image you hold so dear.
When you are walking in these awful shoes of baby-loss, you do feel a little out-casted, as if your shoes are just too ugly for some of your friends to be seen associating with. For a woman, your friendships become more important than they ever were, as soon as you put them on. You are really counting on other women to tell you your shoes are okay, and that they would would borrow them if they could, just to help ease your pain, and show you they aren't too ugly to be seen with. It is so very important to have those friendships in such a difficult time.
It is well known, that there is a strong need for women to be able to talk to others in order to heal themselves. And I don't think I am alone when I say I most enjoy talking to a friend, rather than a recorder, or a diary, or a therapist (or this damn blog today)... but to another real, live, human, woman who you feel close to. We all have our favorite friends, whose companionship can bring you a comfort that can't be bought or replaced. I lost mine a few months ago. She was about the only (unrelated) woman in this world that I felt I could talk to freely, and openly, and cry with, and love deeply... but she hates my shoes and can't be seen around them. She hates that I wear them with honor, hates how I walk in them, and what they look like from the outside. She doesn't even know how much I hate these shoes, and how much I wish to take them off. Never even saw the tears they bring, or the pain that resonates in my heart when I think of every step I have taken since I put them on. She just doesn't like the way they look and that's that.
I overheard a discussion where my friend had been lamenting to others over my absence at the hospital early this year, when her son was in a horrible accident. If you are a facebook friend of mine, you may recall me asking for prayers for her and her son during this time. She was retelling the horrors of my abandonment of her, without including the part of the story where I texted and called her over the course of a week, trying to figure out where she was, and when she would be there. She forgot the part where I offered to bring her dinner, and sleep at the hospital with her. The part where I asked for his room number so I could send flowers, all of which were ignored. That's when I recognized the slippery slope of self-centeredism. I didn't offer to do those things because she came to the hospital when Carly died, because she didn't. I did them because I know how important it is to have the friendship I had been missing. I knew about those ugly, painful shoes she might be looking at wearing during those long days he was in intensive care, and I wanted to be there to tell her those shoes would be ok with me if she had to wear them, and I would help her when they hurt too much. I loved her, and wanted her to have that from me, without a price tag. But in her accounting of the events, she didn't want to recall those things. She doesn't want to say that she was arguing with, and accusing me of things that never happened on the eve of the first anniversary of my daughter's death, rather than asking how I was holding up. Or that I have always been a friend to her that didn't just go along with what what everyone else said, but always wanted to help her, and see her better off than she was before. Ignoring those parts just make her a slave to the image she has created. Remembering those parts of our friendship, well, just remind her that we both lost something great in each other, and nobody is blameless when something like that happens. I don't think either one of us is happy about it, maybe just me though, but what became clear, when she added that she doesn't even recognize "the me that I used to be" anymore to her recent accounting, is that it's because of my shoes.
These shoes that Carly gave to me must be more hideous than I realized, and are surely what makes me walk funny. I am different. I can't think of anyone who has had a child die that isn't different for the lifetime that follows. But I am not ashamed. I just wish she would've stopped focusing on herself, just long enough to see I needed her. I will never let myself do that to anyone. I will be selfless.