I believe that if you love someone (no matter what kind of love), you should let them know. It really is such a lovely thing to hear, and to say. Even if both of you already know it. However, in the case of this friendship, the first time we ever told each other that was at my wedding, which happened about seven years after she and I met. Her family was getting ready to leave the reception, so I hugged them all, told them again how much it meant that they had come, and I told her that I loved her. She responded in a very matter-of-fact tone, “I love you more”. Her succinct tone was very her, but also told me she was trying to keep her feelings in check.
When I got pregnant, and she was the first friend I told, she was over the moon. I had been her daughter’s unofficial Yankee aunt for years, and it both slightly surprised and touched me that she was so clearly smitten with the idea of being the Southern aunt to my child. Not long after I told her, she texted me and asked, “Well, what are we gonna name this kid?” And then promptly commandeered naming rights, deciding on Charlie since it could work for a boy or a girl, and further decided that settled that. Also, very her. I laughed at it, but loved the further indication of how much this kid already meant to her. From then on, when she texted me about the baby, she called it Charlie.
The day I found out the baby had died, she’d been texting fairly regularly throughout. I had been spotting, but had been told that that was completely normal; but naturally I still worried (and as it turned out, for good reason). She was worried too, and knew I had a doctor’s appointment that night. When we got home from that devastating appointment, she was the first one I called, and she knew as soon as she heard my breathing hitch what had happened. She is very grounded in her faith, but she did not tell me it was God’s plan; she said, “Oh honey, I know. You cry. I wish I could be there with you right now.” She offered to come up, asked how long it would take for her to get there if she left right then. I knew if I said yes she would have dropped everything and come. But I just needed my husband right then, so instead she sent me bunches of messages throughout the following days, checking in, checking up, telling me I didn’t have to respond to her but she was sending them anyway, reminding me she loved me. Then she sent packages. One showing the connection between our two states, to remind me of her, she said. One a pendant that read, “I carry you in my heart”. That, she said, is to remember Charlie.
In many of the miscarriage xeroxes they gave us at the hospital before the D&C, there was the idea that naming the baby could help you cope. I wasn’t big on the idea at all. I couldn’t really wrap my head around it. We hadn’t even know if it was a boy or a girl yet. And even though we’d tossed some names around, we hadn’t settled on any. What did they mean we should name it?!
But when she sent me that pendant, and told me it was for Charlie, I had this moment of clarity. Though at the time it had been a joke, she had provided the name we had no idea we would need. Our lost baby, who never really got a shot at life, at least had a name. Somehow, that helped me a bit. I felt overwhelming gratitude to her for ensuring this, for recognizing my baby in this way. In my fog of despair, I still felt thankful for her presence in my life.