Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When there are no words....

So a few weeks ago, I found myself with the unenviable task of sitting down and writing not one, but TWO sympathy notes. One was to a neighbor whose dad had passed away at the ripe, old age of 87. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death and was given the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone he loved. Sad? Of course. Tragic? For his children and loved ones, yes - but on the scale of tragedies - not so much. The other note, unfortunately, was to an associate in a very different situation. A situation so tragic, unenviable and unbelievable, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. To say this situation was a "worst nightmare" scenario doesn't really fit the bill - because very few of us have nightmares that would involve what these people have had to endure for the past several months. Their situation made headlines - national headlines - and made them outcasts in their community. And the culmination to their saga was tragic and wrong and unimaginable to me as a human being, but especially as a parent.

So, as I sat looking down at my $3.00 Hallmark generic sympathy card - I was struck with a serious case of writer's block. And for those of you are are kind enough to read my blog - you know that words don't often fail me. But, in this case - I had nothing. Nothing to say, nothing to write, no words of comfort or wisdom. What to do? In the end, I scribbled something about hoping that time would soothe their wounds and that they would find peace once again thru God's grace. But as I agonized over what to say, I kept thinking that nothing that I could say would possibly make any difference to these people. And I'm sure that it didn't. I just wanted them to know that they were being prayed for and thought about with kindness and compassion.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time in my life where there were literally, just no words. Many of you have read about and know my good pal - Xena, the warrior princess. I call her Xena in the blog, because she truly is one of the strongest, bravest women I know. I first met Xena when we were relaitively new teachers. She taught first grade and I taught second in a school that could probably be plopped down in the middle of any inner city in America and fit right in. To say that that experience was tough, is an understatement. So, we immediately bonded as soldiers in a foxhole wind up being bonded and remain friends for life. We've been through alot together - lots of laughter, and unfortunately, many tears. We've been at each other's weddings, we've attended funerals together, we've been through babies and pregnancies galore, new houses, fights with our spouses, christenings, weight gain and weight loss - the typical joys and difficulties of life and especially motherhood. Xena is a member of  my "inner circle" along with Sookie, Glynnis, her Awesomeness, Carrie, Carrie's sister Kelly, Fifi, Hermione and the gang. We have very few secrets and I'm so fortunate to have her and the rest of the girls in my life.

So, when Xena called me one fine morning almost 7 years ago to tell me that she was expecting baby #2, I was THRILLED for her. I was about 4 months along with Jack, Carrie had just had her third baby - life was good for The Busy Momma and her gang. Unfortunately, about 4 months later, life was about to throw Xena a curveball. When she went for her sonogram at 16 weeks, the baby wasn't measuring correctly. His head was a bit too large, his arms and legs were a bit too short - something was amiss. In typical Xena style - she jumped right on it and found the best doctors she could find and she went hither and yon to have these test results confirmed and interpreted. And the results were heartbreakingly shocking. While doctors could not tell her EXACTLY what was wrong, they were able to confirm that Xena's baby was going to suffer from dwarfism. The exact type of dwarfism would remain unclear until further testing could be done after his birth - but it was confirmed that he would suffer from this rare genetic condition. Needless to say, Xena and her husband and family were shell -shocked and heartbroken.

As her friends - we were also shell-shocked and heartbroken. How the heck did THAT happen? What would this mean for our friend? What would this mean for her family? For her older child? How could we support her through the rest of this pregnancy? What would she need from us? What could we say to her to bring her comfort?

About 5 months later her beautiful, strong, amazing, resilient boy was born. He was born with many more problems and complications than were even anticipated, and there was a good stretch of time when we weren't sure that he was going to make it. Which, looking back was kind of silly of us. Xena is SO strong, we should have realized that any child that she gives birth to will have her strength! Despite dire predictions, her boy made it. He has had to endure painful, agonizing surgeries, countless blooddraws and tests, he wears hearing aids and glasses, used a feeding tube for many years and countless other painful and expensive trials over the past 6 years. But I am thrilled to report that Jack and I watched him blow out the candles on his 6th birthday cake last weekend.

So, the question is - how did we handle these trials and tribulations with our friend? How well did we support her? Well, I can't speak for the other girls - but I'd give myself a B minus. I did my very best and I offered the help I thought she needed, but I made mistakes along the way. And I think one of the hallmarks of our friendship is that Xena can tell me what I did right and what I did wrong. And I think that illuminating the mistakes that I've made along the way might help other people avoid them.

Many of you know me personally. If you do - then you know that I show care and concern the only way I know how - with food. You know you're loved if you get Nanny's Soda Bread delivered to your door. So, while Xena and her husband were shuttling back and forth to the NICU at Hopkins - I was cooking and baking. Everytime I worried about her, I made a lasagna, a baked ziti, a soda bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, nacho pie...things that she could put in the freezer and pull out when she tired of fast food. I had my cleaning lady go to her house and clean for her. I did her grocery shopping for her, offered to go over and do the laundry. Things that I thought she needed. And while she appreciated everything that her circle of friends did for her - we were missing the mark. As we were filling her freezer - SHE needed us to be filling her soul. Think about it - how many lasagnas and baked zitis does one family really need? She needed company as she sat for hours by the crib of her fragile baby as the babies that surrounded him in the NICU died - right in front of her - each and every week. It never occurred to me to go down and sit with her. I didn't want to intrude. I didn't realize that Xena would have told me if I was intruding. It never occurred to me to ask her what she really needed. Instead, I gave her what I thought she needed. And that's not to say that she didn't need food and practical support - because she did. And she appreciated it. I just wish that instead of making one more lasagna, that I'd spent that time sitting by the baby's crib with her.

I think part of the reason why I didn't go to the hospital was because I didn't know what to say to her. I had a perfectly healthy, if somewhat colicky baby boy at home. What do you say to another mother who is praying that her baby makes it through the night? It was MUCH easier to make taco pie than sit with the silence.

Now,  plenty of people did a FAR worse job than I did. Xena says that people just stopped calling and coming by all together. She lost many friends throughout that dark and frightening first year of her new life. They just stopped talking to her. Hard to believe? Yes. Easy to explain away - sure. They didn't know WHAT TO SAY. Because in this case, there were just no words. And that makes people uneasy. And then, there were the people who said DREADFUL, HORRIBLE, insanely cruel and stupid things to her. Someone actually told her that when they heard about her situation that they could truly understand why some people had abortions. This lovely tidbit came from a FAMILY MEMBER. People would look at her and the baby in an elevator and say things like "What's wrong with your baby?". A receptionist at a doctor's office actually told her that she needed to "get her priorities straight" as she tried to schedule an appointment around her work schedule. Imagine - having to go back to work during all of this because your medical bills were unreal - even with some of the best insurance money could buy. There are countless other indignities she has had to suffer, and I'm sure will continue to suffer throughout the coming years.

I guess my point in writing this post - other than to send a shout out to the best and strongest mom that I know- is to encourage you, my dear readers, to ask the right questions in times of tragedy. Instead of assuming that we know what a friend in crisis needs, ask her what she needs. The greatest lesson I've learned from Xena is that you need to BE THERE - physically BE THERE for your friends - even if you don't know what to say. It's better to say "I just don't know what to say to you - but I love you and I'm here for you" than to not say anything at all.

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