Thursday, September 03, 2009


"Hi, I'm Stacey. I just moved here too. Let's be friends!"

I had just moved to the town of Dedham, MA immediately following the Blizzard of '78. My paternal grandmother had passed away quietly in her sleep in the middle of the storm, and upon her passing she left her house to my father. We moved out of our small apartment in Mansfield and into the house I would call home for the next quarter century. It was the middle of March, an awkward point in the school year to be just entering a first grade classroom full of kids who already knew each other well.

On my first day, I was paraded to the front of the classroom and introduced to everyone as "the new girl" by Mrs. Kennedy. I was mortified, the first of many embarrassing moments I would experience in the Dedham Public School System. Not one of the kids waved, smiled, or even said hello. They all just stared blankly at me - or at least, that is how it felt.

Stacey was told to pass papers out to everyone in the class. Our desks were set up in a giant U-shape with everyone facing into the middle of the room. Stacey went from desk to desk with perfect precision, handing each student their paper. But when she got to me, she boldly extended her hand to me for a handshake and introduced herself.

She had me at "Let's be friends." She was my very first friend in Dedham. She knew exactly how I was feeling on that uncomfortable morning, as she had just experienced the very same thing only a couple of months prior. We were the very best of friends for a long, long time. And she is still one of my dearest friends today - almost thirty two (gulp) years later.

I couldn't possibly be happier to have learned today that my dear friend Stacey has given birth to her first child. Her son arrived a full four weeks earlier than expected, and though he is small (5 pounds 6 ounces) he is apparently strong and healthy and doing just great. His dad anounced to us, via email, that apparently little Sawyer (LOVE THE NAME!) didn't want to miss the first three weeks of the NFL season. How cute is that? My heart is overflowing with happiness for them. I cannot wait to meet the little guy. To think that Stacey was in my life when my sister Cheryl was born, and now she and I both have children of our own - it is truly amazing.

I was so happy to hear this news today, as it was in such sharp contrast to some news I had heard only a few hours earlier.

As we dropped Amanda off at Pre-K this morning, her teacher told us in a hushed voice that the child of the director of the school had passed away the night before. It was all I could do to not start bawling in front of the young kids in the classroom.

This child had been sick for his entire short life - I thought he was only four months old but it turns out he was just shy of 11 months. Wow, it feels as though she just took her maternity leave not that long ago. Still, he was a baby with some serious medical issues, and after his recent fourth surgery his tiny body began to shut down and he lost his battle.

I cannot even begin to put into words what I am feeling about this today. I am too well aware of the grief that comes with infertility and with pregnancy loss, having dealt with both issues head-on. My sister also lost a pregnancy that was halfway through - twenty weeks - a tragedy for certain, and one of the most painful experiences we've gone through as a family.

But how does one prepare for, let alone deal with, the death of their child - a child who still had so many firsts ahead of him - first steps, first words, first kisses? I don't think I would have the courage to ever get out of bed again if it were my child. Loss of a pregnancy, or even of a potential pregnancy (i.e. failed IVF cycle) is devastating enough; but the loss of a child you have held and loved and nurtured has to be worse than unbearable. No matter if the parents tried to prepare themselves for this possible outcome, this is tragic in the truest sense of the word.

There is a fund raiser being held at Amanda's school next week in his name. Originally, it was going to be held to raise money to assist with the hospital bills; it will still be held, but now it will be done in his memory.

I am going to see if I can find out any information about where donations can be made to the family. I am also considering trying to do some fundraising on my own; for example, I am running a half-marathon next month and might try to run it in his name and have people donate or sponsor my run. I need to do a bit of research to see exactly how I am to go about setting this up. Once I do, you can be certain that I will post the link here.

It has been an emotional day indeed, full of both the very happiest and the very saddest of news. It is a day that led me to, upon picking my daughter up from school, hug her as tightly as I could for as long as she would possibly allow me to (which, surprisingly, was longer than I expected it to be). I told her at least seventeen times how much I loved her, and she kept saying "I know that Mommy." I hope she always, always knows it and remembers it. It is a day like this that makes me step back, take stock, and realize how blessed I am. There are things almost every single day that get on my nerves, that upset or frustrate me, and I tend to never think twice about openly complaining about these very unimportant things.

Today, right now, I am the luckiest person in the entire world. I am going to try very hard to remember the ups and the downs of today. I want to be sure that I always remember that every day spent with my daughter is a miraculous gift.

Because the truth is, I have everything I will ever need in the entire world sitting next to me right now watching Sesame Street and munching on CheezIts.