I’m planning a Thelma and Louise-like adventure with a friend of mine this weekend — complete with a convertible. She’s also childfree. Oh, how wonderful it is to have those in our lives who make us feel “normal” in an otherwise abnormal world.
This “Louise” friend of mine is an amazing woman. She’s traveled the world and been fearless in the face of new and sometimes dramatically challenging experiences. Among her favorite escapes was spending nearly a year with her equally amazing husband touring Africa in the most unglamorous but exhilarating way you could conjure up in your imagination. Their photos and journal entries sent back from Internet cafes around the continent still live on our hard drive. I’ve admired her optimism and keen sense of adventure since I met her more than a decade ago.
She’s seen a lot of happiness and a lot of sorrow in her travels. From her I’ve realized that my troubles are big to me, but that sorrow doesn’t discriminate. It comes in all shapes, sizes and packages.
But I digress. I was struck recently by how much her mother had influenced her life and her outlook. Her mother was a woman of steel with a heart of gold who passed away recently. At the memorial service my friend and her siblings paid heartfelt tributes to their mother, each in their own poignant way. Their tributes made us laugh and cry and appreciate how much their mother had shaped just who they had become.
Later I told another friend (a fertile myrtle) just how beautiful the memorial service had been. I told her that I had requested a copy of the remarks “Louise” had made. My fertile myrtle friend is one of the few who knew we sought outside help to make our family. She tried to understand the suffering and heartache I’ve had to face but never quite got there. How could she? The inexplicable ways that infertility has changed me and my relationship with the world around me is not something most people can wrap their head around. She asked to see a copy of the remarks.
I forwarded them along via email. Her response struck me given all that she knew of my situation and the fact that she knew “Louise” did not have children either.
She wrote back in email: “I can only hope my own children can find such dear words for me.”
Now, I’m willing to admit that I’m overly sensitive on this subject, but doesn’t her comment seem like an odd thing — an ironic thing — to say to a woman (and about a woman) who will never their own children, let alone children to pay tribute to them?
Wouldn’t “What a beautiful tribute” or “What a wonderful way Louise has with words” have been sufficient?
I just shook it off as I do with so many ironic things said to me on a daily basis. I’ve already told “Louise” that when the time comes she better sharpen her pencil for me. Of course, I’ll do the same for her…
Update: Good comments. Yes, we’re all self-absorbed — quite a few of my posts take navel gazing to a whole new level. I’ve been also been guilty of saying things that I’d like to take back, but the reason this response gave me pause is that it was an email response and in email we have the luxury of thinking what we want to say before we hit the send button. Also, this emotionally-charged subject is not exactly new to her. I can only presume that after all these years she has managed to “get over” my infertility and moved on. That’s not quite so easy for those who still live with it every day…sigh.