Less than a week after the funeral, I stood in the obstetrician’s office waiting for what was to come.
“How are you today?” the nurse asked cheerfully.
“Well . . ,”
I wanted to skip this part. I wanted to get through the examination without comment. I wanted to leave. I realized I should have maybe told the receptionist when I rescheduled the appointment exactly why I was rescheduling. But the words had sounded so empty. So careless.
“Oh, I am sorry I missed my appointment, but my son died. Can we reschedule?”
So I didn’t say anything. I just rescheduled. But that left me standing with a chipper nurse and me not knowing quite what to say.
“Honestly, not so good. We lost our son last weekend.”
A look of shock, hug, words of sympathy. Then my obstetrician was there.
“Life is for the living,” he said.
The first time I recounted that, I realized it sounded trite. The first time I talked to another grieving mother about things we wished people wouldn’t say, that made her list.
But he spent 45 minutes with me and the words were anything but trite.
“Life is for the living,” he said, “And you know where he is. Take comfort in that when you can.”
Tears were my only response.
“Don’t let anyone tell you to stop grieving. You can’t stop it anyway. It’s just part of it. But there will be times when you smile, times when you laugh. Hold on to those moments. They will help you get through. Hold on to those moments and know that you do his memory honor through laughter.”
The tears gave way to sobs as he struck at my heart. For I had smiled. I had even laughed, though it was hardly joy-filled. And both experiences had left me falling into the same nauseating abyss as when I reached for his hand and it wasn’t there.
“Hold onto joy and know that each of those moments is a precious gift and not a betrayal.”
I could scarcely answer through the tears. They’re threatening even now.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
For into the midst of my sorrow, he had spoken hope and joy and life with words I so desperately needed to hear.