Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laughing Again

Today (and yesterday) marks five years from one of the saddest days of my life, and most certainly one of the saddest days of my BFF's life. Though time has certainly healed some pain for my dear friend, I will never forget the heartache and despair Melanie wore on her face for months.

Five years ago, I captured this photo. Two brothers and a dad surrounding a lifeless, perfectly formed little brother and son. I will never forget the haunting phone call I received from Melanie, following a routine ultrasound in which she declared,  "My baby has died."

On that dreary January day, I was taken back to the summer of 1995. When on a sunny, summer day, Melanie's mom passed away in a car accident. In the first day that followed that dreadful news, I felt as though Melanie and I would never laugh again. I truly believed it. Those first few days seemed gloomy and dark. Melanie was injured, her mother was dead and I knew life as we knew it had ended. I could not imagine 'Mel and Tiff' who were so often told to be quiet, calm down and act mature, would ever smile, let alone laugh and be ourselves ever again.

In 1995, about four days after the tragic car accident, I decided to help Melanie go outside and get some fresh air. With a borrowed wheelchair, I began to push Melanie up the slight incline of her street. I can't even remember exactly what happened next, but I do know the wheelchair got stuck, Melanie almost tipped out and there we were on the side of the road laughing. And I mean, really laughing. The tears-coming-out-your-eyes-belly-hurting and I-need-to-find-a-bathroom type laugh. We were laughing. Just days after I had convinced myself we never would again.

Back to that wintery, January day five years ago.
Though I recalled how soon we did indeed laugh again following her mom's death, this time I really doubted it. This time we were adults. We were not immature, single, college students with our real adult lives still ahead of us.  We were wives and we were mothers and Melanie had just been handed a heartbreaking, life-changing set back.  Her baby that shouldn't have been born for three more months, died before he could ever take a breath.

I'd like to say we found something to laugh about just a few days later, like we had ten years previously, but we didn't.  It was a horrible winter.  It seemed for weeks I would sit on Melanie's couch or she would come and sit on mine.  I have no recollections of what we talked about, what we ate or what we did.  It was a long, dark winter.

Five years have now passed.  I've had two babies since then, and she had one, a miracle in its truest form, her Jonah baby who is now three and a half!

Fortunately, Melanie and I proved myself wrong yet again, we have indeed laughed since her baby James' birth and death five years ago.  In fact, I can confidently say, we have laughed plenty. And though we are probably never told to be quiet, calm down and act mature, that is a probably a product of age and circumstance, not life experiences.  Melanie is a fine example of smiling, laughing and enjoying life amidst it's heartbreaks and disappointments.  What a friend to have!

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