Today is the seven year anniversary of our miscarriage of my first pregnancy. The loss is still there, but it’s not like I need a day off and flowers for it. (Not that a day off and flowers would be sufficient for grief and loss, but… it would be more than I got when I miscarried. Hunh. Anyway.)
And here is the interesting thing about this anniversary this year. It’s also the last full day of my eldest born daughter’s first year of school. Calendars have layers upon layers upon layers.
In the years to come I also want to remember last night. Because last night marked an incredible change and neither I nor the other person involved knew it for what it was.
Last night I hugged someone who wasn’t a family member.
For the first time since early march 2020, probably Sarah Howell the day I got my first tattoo, I hugged someone outside my family.
And the main reason it happened is because I said I was moving.
I was reflecting with a friend recently about how open or not we’ll be with people around us and hugging them. And I told her I was going to be very discerning… and I think that’s true, but I forgot that my discernment is not always what I expect it will be.
But here is what it means to live in a place where half the time you lived there was during a pandemic. Your neighbors know you because you walk down their street every single day. They will know that you were the one who has the kids who started on your back and they moved to the stroller and now they can walk beside you.
But you won’t know your neighbor’s name because your mind is a sieve for names. But you will know them, and you’ll appreciate how the seasons change and how the porch is decorated for the holidays and how they care for their plants and keep their yard cute and inviting. You’ll remember a conversation you had with her over a year ago about how she retired from nearly 40 years of teaching but didn’t get to say goodbye to her last group of students because they all went into lockdown.
And you’ll stop on the evening walk when you’re by yourself before the sun sets but after the kids are in bed. You’ll say “oh I guess I should tell you that we’re gonna be moving” and she’s like “oh well then I guess we will miss you” and then she’ll ask about your neighbor who lives across the street from you and who they go to church together so they know that your neighbor has incredibly aggressive cancer and you didn’t know exactly what was going on because who knows how to talk about these things when you don’t exchange phone numbers when you arrive and you didn’t know that was what you would need to do because they’re just across the street surely you’ll have a conversation again, you can see into their kitchen from your bed and so she’ll say do you know about her and she’ll still be crying because she’s just said hello and she’s gotten to see her friend and she’s been there and she still tender and so she will come to you and she will mutter “don’t worry I’m vaccinated” and she’ll pull you into a solid embrace.
A hug that lasts five or ten or twenty breaths.
And she’ll go back to talking to her neighbors and her husband, and you don’t know her name. And it will occur to you as you begin to crack as you walk past the magnolia that you see every day that this was the first hug you’ve shared in fifteen months from someone who’s not in your family.
And you’re leaving in less than a month and this. All of this. Happens the night before the seventh anniversary of your miscarriage.
And maybe the hug was just as much for you as is was for her.