She didn’t go away.
After Mabel died, many people didn’t know what to do, how to help. Some people stumbled through awkward “I’m sorrys,” some offered unhelpful platitudes, some told their own tales of woe to try to help me realize I wasn’t alone, some invisibly dropped off food on our doorstep as a physical gesture of their care, some disappeared all together.
She didn’t. She didn’t go away.
One day, she came by just to hang out. We sat at my kitchen table and talked about unimportant things I don’t remember now. She didn’t mention Mabel once. I remember noting that to Chris afterwards. It was strange not to ask about my baby, dead not even a few weeks, but her visit was still pleasant. I enjoyed it.
She kept coming.
In the early days we spent time together and rarely talked of Mabel. This I know now was her not knowing what to do. But she knew enough to simply be present. This was amazing. People who truly felt at a loss of what to do or how to be often just disappeared. But here was a friend who felt that way, but understood how important it was just to stumble through. I still needed to talk about Mabel, about my grief, and ultimately we began to do so. She had some of the most genuine responses to what I had to say and would do some of the simplest gestures to show she still thought about my baby. She cried- not watching me cry, but cried because she was honestly sad that Mabel died. She participated in Mabel Was Here. Months later, when I was riding in her car, the little sign with those words on it was still taped to her dashboard. She hadn’t taken it down.
There are many times I have written about when people say the wrong thing-and I’ll give them the benefit of being well intentioned. Sometimes, though, I have to remember the people who are well intentioned and succeed! Even in the non traditional sense. She didn’t say anything mindblowing. She often didn’t have the right words to say. But she stayed. She was present. And that’s what’s important.
Has anyone given you support in a surprising way?