Sisterhood, when I said we were going to have to back up again, I meant business:
May 3, 1977
That’s right, the five-to-the-three-to-the-seven-seven.
When I said ‘back up again’ you maybe thought earlier in October? Or September, perhaps? August, if stretching?
I lured you into my Delorean-of-a-blog and before you could do anything about it we were back in the era of Jimmy Carter, plaid polyester, ABBA’s Dancing Queen, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. (Are you now humming FM’s You Can Go Your Own Way, too? No? Just me? Okay then.)
We can’t finish October 2011 without getting at the roots of her:
That’s me. Squinty-eyed, squishy-faced, strawberry-fuzzed me.
I arrived on May 3, 1977.
Which was twenty-two days after my April 12th due date. “TWENTY-TWO DAYS” is I believe how The MotherSuch would type it.
So, basically, I had major issues with timeliness before I ever even got here.
Had I been born on (or even in the near vicinity of) my due date, then I wouldn’t have been hanging in the hospital nursery when, on May 5th, she arrived:
That’s The Other Valley Girl. Puffy-cheeked, mohawk-havin’, hands-in-the-air-like-she’s-mid-jumping-jack (she has a nervous exercise condition–fact) Other Valley Girl.
That we were both in the hospital nursery at the same time might not seem so wow, except
our parents lived in different towns, around an hour away from one another,
and instead of having us at their local hospitals, they each drove just over an hour
to The Big City
to the same hospital.
Captioned photos in my baby book show that The MotherSuch and I were not discharged from the hospital until May 7th.
Which means overlap. Which means practically bonded from birth.
After we parted ways at the hospital, it would be twelve years before we would see each other again, “meeting” over those calligraphy pens in Mrs. Johnson’s art class.
We’ve weathered a lot together, me and TOVG: the drama of May 5-7, 1977; the dramas of junior high; the dramas of high school; the dramas of college; the dramas of young married life; the dramas of young motherhood. (All of our dramas are “young” based, you’ll notice. Because we are. Obvs.). And aside from those dramas, the traumas of illnesses and losses. And aside from the dramas and traumas, plenty of laughs and love and outright ridiculousness.
She is my longest best.
I don’t know how I would’ve survived the nursery without her.
Or all the stuff since.
Including October 2011.
Including her being pregnant . . . and me being not.
* * * * *
It took me until October 24th to settle my heart, my emotions, my soul enough to step out in front of my friend in all of my stripped-down rawness and vulnerability and ache and through tears just be very honest and exposed with her. (And it would have to be by text, 10-hour physical distance between Shelbyville and The Other Valley and all.)
At a time when really and truly we should have been wrapped up in abundant happiness about her pregnancy and immersed in best-friend-analysis of the minutiae that accompanies it, I was trapped under the weight of my grief and frustration. I was genuinely excited and happy and celebrating for her . . . but also genuinely grieving and frustrated for me. And I was afraid that if I owned that outright, if I admitted it to her, if I admitted it to me, that some kind of forever-wedge would be driven between us.
She made it all okay.
She let me know that she got it.
She understood. She’d understood before even sending me her news.
Of course she had.
And her heart had been heavy, too.
Of course it had.
But we could weather this.
Of course we could.
(Our mothers can now sigh, shake their heads, and say a quick prayer for our usages of ‘eff’ and ‘pissed’ which, for whatever it may be worth to them, I did think about editing out for their benefits . . . but . . . didn’t. Authenticity trumped mothers this time.)
And then, by the grace of auto-correct, the two of us were saved from our weepy relief at the tumbling of the wall between us.
It was in that conversation, with my TOVG, that the changing tide of October found its full force. In the things that were said, and even the things that weren’t. The conversation didn’t make me un-sad or un-disappointed, but my friend had freed me from worrying that publicly grieving was something that would come in between or irreparably change us. It wouldn’t. She got it. She acknowledged the enormous weight I was carrying around. She’d been carrying it, too. And as soon as I realized that, the weight began lifting.
* * * * *
Through two incredible friends, I have been given permission, of sorts, to be weak and broken and sad and work through all of it at my own pace without being alone in it.
For one friend, it has meant rehashing some of her own painful infertility struggles and miscarriages as she helps me sift through mine.
For another, it has meant holding back and filtering and patiently waiting for me to sift and sort and digest and catch up–and giving me the latitude to write about all of that, including her, too.
When I started writing about October, back at the first of November, TOVG had shared her news with family and some friends, but had not widely announced her pregnancy. And while I continue to use ‘TOVG’ out of respect for her (relative) Internet privacy, her identity is no secret to friends in common. And so, as I began writing about October, I paced it, broke the parts down into smaller pieces than how I more typically write, so that the post first referencing her announcement would not publish until after she decided to shout it from the rooftops (or, you know, in a Facebook status).
I don’t know if she knew from the initial ‘Considering It’ posts where I was heading. We didn’t talk about it really. She couldn’t have known about the evaporation line or Somebody’s Grandfather, the mounting frustrations and sadness and why-is-God-sticking-it-to-me-ness in the 24-48 hours leading up to her message to me–she couldn’t have known because as I kept a tight rein on those unseemly thoughts and emotions, I admitted them only to The Husband. I don’t think TOVG had a clue about the timing of things on my end until it was laid out for everyone via this here OtherSuchery.
So, the morning that the post referencing her pregnancy and my full response to it was to be published, I warned her about what was coming.
And then waited to hear that all was okay.
And it was.
More than, even.
The response that came back from my friend later in the day was every bit as raw and personal for her as the words I’d been stringing together in the Considering It series of posts were for me. The exact substance of her text is not mine to share–far too intimate and personal–but it was the most beautiful, meaningful message she’s ever sent me. She drew upon a time of her own unimaginable grief, when her brother died, and she commiserated with me in my raging against and questioning God. Rather than withdrawing from me when I exposed my ugly underbelly,
she rolled over next to me and exposed hers, too.
She lay there with me, reflecting on her own grief and pain and anger and her slow emergence from her own very dark place
letting me know, once again, that she understood.
And then she stood up, extended her hand, and pulled me to my feet with a reminder that we need God despite all of those things . . .
because of all of those things.
* * * * *
She, my Other Valley Girl.
She, my unwitting catalyst for Considering It.
She, my unquestionable best.
And with she, who was there way, way back in the very beginning of my beginnings, is where October ends.
(But not where the Considering It ends . . . .)