A Friday night firepit. Something of a tradition among our friends. Summer time has rolled in and in the absence of other plans, someone in the friend group will often suggest a night around the fire. This Friday night firepit was at our good friends’ house- they got married two weeks ago and invited us over to help make a dent in some of their leftover beer and wine.
We sat around the fire and made small talk- the world cup, their recent honeymoon in Paris, the location of the cricket we were hearing. As the fire sparked, I sat on one of the comfy patio chairs. It was familiar to me- it used to sit at my parent’s old house. When they moved, we got a U-haul and schlepped all the furniture they weren’t bringing with them down to our neck of the woods and distributed some of it among friends. These friends have the patio set, a large hutch and an upright piano. Moving a piano isn’t easy, but Chris and this friend made it happen. I was very impressed.
As I sat I this familiar comfy chair, their five year old came up and snuggled with me. She is super sweet and we have always gotten along. When they moved into this new house I bought her and her brother housewarming gifts (books) along with their parents. I remember in my pregnancy coming over one night and she sat on my lap. After a hour or so, she looked at me and said “Do you have a baby in your belly?’ We all smiled and laughed at how cute an observation it was. She and her dad came and visited Chris and I in the hospital one night and again a few weeks after Mabel died. In the house, she looked at one of the photos we had of her framed by our doorway- “is this your baby that died?” she asked with an innocence that only a kid could have.
I like this kid. I’m good with her. Heck, I’m good with kids in general. I’ve been babysitting since I was 11. I was a child development major in college. I worked at summer camps all through college. Once my friends started having kids, I would show them how to swaddle and hold their babies with confidence. I have even been called the baby whisperer. So the unfairness of having a child and her being ripped away from me hurts all the more. Because I would have been great with my kid.
At the firepit, she snuggled up to me and rambled on about a story involving Mrs. Redleaf- the tree in her back yard. At one point, during a break in the story I pulled up my phone to show her a photo of a turtle I had seen in my yard a few days before. Her seven-year old brother came over and looked too. Drawn to the screen, as kids are these days, we spent a few minutes scrolling through my photos pausing to look at other pictures of animals I had. In between we passed some photos of carrots. “Why do you have so many carrots on your phone?” her brother asked.
“Remember how I had a baby and she died?” They both nodded. “Well, we used to call her our Karate Carrot. Carrot was her nickname. I have all the carrots because I’m sad and I miss her.” They accepted my explanation easily and we soon put the photo down and went back to the firepit. I heard more of the story of Mrs. Redleaf and we ate pizza.
Towards the end of the night when the little girl was curled up on my lap, she said that I was her mom now. She even called out to her own mother and said she wanted to go home with us, “because you don’t have any kids. Your baby died, so I want to be your kid.”
Sigh. Kids- they just say the right thing sometimes.