There are days — and thankfully fewer and far between — when I look at my reflection and I don’t know who is staring back at me. I’m surprised by how “normal” I look. I don’t mean that to be funny; it’s just that if what appeared in the mirror was a reflection of what was going through my mind, or my heart, then it would be ashen, bruised, exhausted.
My best friend gave birth a week ago. I was looking through her pictures and saw life in her eyes, color in her cheeks and a joy that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on her face. It’s the kind of joy that’s in your eyes and in your soul. Unmistakable. More than just a smile. What’s funny about joy is that you can recognize it immediately. But pain—well that’s a different story.
That’s because pain hides behind a smile and behind, “I’m good.” Pain hides behind normal. Pain won’t show up in the mirror.
You can hide pain and you can fake joy. I’ve gotten pretty good at both. It’s an exhausting existence though. Also exhausting is the battle between joy and pain when they exist in the same space. When I look at my friend’s pictures, I am simultaneously caught in her joy and suffocating from pain. It leaves me craving and dreading. Thirsty and saturated. Full and starving.
I want to celebrate and love and at the same time it feels treacherously deceitful to my feelings.
I pick up the phone to call her because I want all the details and I want to hear how she is, and how the baby is. I want to gush and God, I miss her. But every time I pick up the phone, I freeze. My heart skips a beat and I’m reminded of what was lost and I can’t breathe. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain.
I will call…soon. But at this moment in time, this is how I show love and joy:
Welcome to the world Aiden James and my sincerest love and congratulations to your wonderful parents.