our hands were meant for both

As a woman who has laid in the hospital, who has seen the test change from positive to negative overnight, I have realized something.

My loss doesn't taint your gain.

I've felt it, since the miscarriage, this shift in the way others approach me. A few women have kept their distance. Maybe they don't know what do say. In my worst moments of self-doubt, I have wondered if they feared I was contagious. It's also likely that I haven't always displayed what my heart believes, that sometime throughout our friendship my actions said that my disappointment was tangled up in their celebration. Whether in business, marriage, finances, somewhere along the way I am sure I treated their gain as a direct opposition to my loss. The truth is always two-sided and is most likely a mix of it all.

Even if my actions fail me sometimes, here is what my heart believes. When we face loss, we need time to grieve. But across the board we could become better at separating ourselves from others joy. I could become better at separating myself from celebrating others. Our divorce doesn't mean I can't be happy for your marriage. My sickness doesn't mean I can't find joy in your health. It may bring out some tender spots and feelings of jealousy that I have to work through but there are places to work through these and room for big feelings in best friendships. *don't worry, we aren't getting divorced

This paradox is something I'm working on. Well, it feels like the Lord is graciously forcing me to work on. Since the day the test turned negative, three of my best friends found out they were pregnant. With each announcement, I had a choice. So I've practiced celebrating these new lives. I've planned showers, purchased tiny gifts, toasted champagne (and mocktails for the mommas) and squealed at every new development. In the harder moments I've confessed my hurt, knowing that there is grace. That I'm not causing them guilt by being disappointed, that they can encourage me as I cheer for them and it's all sacred. 

We recently celebrated a first birthday of some dear friends babe.  The women who gathered there had lost babies, some early in pregnancy and some as late as birth But we all whooped and teared up with excitement and love as Mags blew out the candle. I took photos, laughed at the icing smeared across her face, and thought this is what it means to hold it all loosely. My hands are open and full, sometimes full of sorrow, other times joy,  or, like at that adorable birthday party, a beautiful mix of both. Because a loss doesn't negate a gain. It's not a this for that. Its a bittersweet mess we learn to celebrate. So pregnant friends, don't shy away. Tell me about your big bellies with joy and excitement and I'll wrap my arms around your new inches and hold you in celebration. Just the way you wrapped your arms around me as I grieved. Our hands were meant for both, not either or, so let's walk through it all together.

Meredith Harper