She was telling a story. Remembering things from the past. Talking about how much fun I am. Talking about how I throw the best parties. Telling everyone that I’m such a good cook. Saying how she was so happy to be moving back to London because she and her husband really missed us. They missed us because we are such good friends and we are so much fun.
Who is she? She is a friend that I met when I first moved to London almost 8 years ago. She was friends with me before tragedy hit. She was friends with the old me, the “me” before. She moved away a month before my son died. In fact, she delayed her departure so she could attend my baby shower. That was the last time she saw me until a few weeks ago.
Who was she telling her stories to? She was sharing this information with some of my new friends. Friends who didn’t know the “me” before. As she was walking down memory lane, sharing stories about fun times and crazy moments I could see looks of wonder on the faces of my newer friends. I could tell that they didn’t recognize the “me” that was being described in the stories. In a way, neither did I. That person seems so far away now.
It’s been just over 2 and a half years since my precious baby boy died. A lot has happened since then. I have come out of the fog of early grief and despair. I have gone on to have my rainbow baby and know the joy of parenting a living child. I have slowly and deliberately carved out a new life for myself, a new normal.
I am no longer frozen in time. I no longer count each day without him. I no longer cry for hours every day. I suppose it’s fair to say that I have moved on with life. I have moved forward to a place where there is still some sadness, but there is also much joy.
But I am forever changed. You can’t go through something as devastating and soul destroying as losing a child and come out the other side the same person. It’s just not possible. Moments like this create permanent marks in our lives. There will never be a time when I go back to being that person. There will always be “The Me Before,” and “The Me After.”
I don’t think too much about the person I was before my son died and was born. I guess that’s because it’s been such a tough road to get to the person I am today. I’m still in the trenches trying to find my way to a happier place. So I rarely look back anymore.
But this week I caught a glimpse of the “me” before when I listened to her stories. And I really missed the woman I used to be. They way she talked about me made me remember just how full of life I was. How idealistic and positive I was, even in the midst of an almost 8 year battle with infertility. I had a joy for life that I haven’t been able to recapture just yet.
It was quite an interesting evening. Sitting with a mix of old friends and new friends. Friends I knew on either side of the tragedy that was my son’s death. Two very different sides of the same person. I could see that my new friends did not entirely recognize the woman she was describing. The “me” before threw a lot of parties and cooked up a storm, the “me” after has much fewer parties and hardly ever cooks for her friends. The old me would never turn down a chance to socialize while the new me sometimes does.
It got me a bit nostalgic about the past. I know I can’t change anything. There will be no magical transformation back to that fun loving, much less complicated person. But maybe I could try and bring a bit of the fun back. Not just for them, but for me. There was a time when I loved having people over. There was a time when I loved cooking for friends. Perhaps I need to try and recapture that feeling.
Perhaps it’s time for me to invite some friends over for a BBQ sometime soon.
The author of Finding My New Normal blogs about her life, and her husband’s life, after the death of their son in the 36th week of pregnancy. Having recently moved from the US to London, she shares her journey openly, including her plans to have another child.