The body news shifted life views.
A week after I was told I had nothing to create life and not much to sustain it – one of my former roommates, M, had children – twins.
I prefer to personally choose gifts and wrap them, pick out the cards and handwrite them. And if the recipient lives close, why not walk it over and hand it to the doorman rather than wait on line at the post office?
That September on a Thursday, still very hot, I headed over to drop off the gifts. I burst into tears on my way there – clearly processing emotion that I so strongly repressed. It was OK though, no one knew me on the way and the tears would be dried up by the time I got to the building.
I left the large, overly wrapped and tissued gifts with the doorman and felt good, like it would be a pleasant surprise of gifts with no interruption of new dual motherhood and a nice gesture. I would see everyone when things were more settled.
But when I left, M's husband was outside walking the dog and saw me, and her mother was simultaneously pulling into the parking lot of their building. This was such a rare collision for 1pm on a Thursday mid-September. There were weeks my roommate and I never saw each other because we had different schedules, six months that I didn't see any of the six people that lived in my apartment building.
As far as I knew it wasn’t a major hospital day/emergency day or holiday. Also, the odds of running into someone you know outside of the building they live in, especially if you are only in the vicinity for five minutes, are extremely low, contrary to popular belief. You could walk by every day for weeks and not see a person you know (I knew approximately 8 people who lived there and never bumped into one when running nearby at everyone else's after-work workout time.) Here was not only the husband, but my friend’s mother (who may have been a little upset I introduced the couple until, of course, the grandchildren!) pulling into the lot.
And I’m like about to cry again. And then the husband – who honestly did not see any emotion on me but was like “Hey what’s up? You dropped off gifts? Let me call upstairs! She’d probably love to see you.” And sure enough, she was OK for company at the moment, so we retrieved the gifts and up we went, me, her mom and husband and dog. And who opens the door but her younger sister (who also had recently moved into the building) holding one of the twins. It was like visiting another family of mine.
My tiny, little first post-college roommate who had just given birth to twins – I could only think – how are you alive let alone can see people? M seemed pretty well-adjusted, so soon. One baby was born with a heart condition and still in the hospital, but M and everyone else was exuding joy.
Everything, everything I was going through was nothing. I completely forgot about my news once upstairs with everyone. It’s like people are there at the moment you need them, even if you never told or asked them anything. Or more like, the universe takes care of you.
M was showing me her apartment and how she decorated the babies' room, and her mom was going over the sonogram photos with me which was wild – because this was the year the technology had really amped up (my brother and his wife had just had the first child of the next generation and it was the same types of "wow this is a human" reality at the earliest months).
M's sister was holding the twin that was able to be home. She asked me if I wanted to hold her. Not only was I shocked and honored at being offered to hold a very newborn baby (less than a month), I had not held a baby as new since my brothers were born. (M was my first friend to have a baby, and had two at that. Competitive.)
Baby M was placed in my arms and something connected then. Just holding that baby, there is something so magical about newborns and babies/children in general that is hopeful. Holding a baby is – if I was going through the darkest in my life and trying to hide it – transformative. There is something about life that is so powerful. Plants bring us happiness, pets. But humans, baby humans are just perhaps because they are our species and we tend to be narcissists, are way more fascinating.
This quick visit on a random day, no occasion or party extravaganganza or plan, but a random drop-in into M's living room made me forget about me. I did not – ironically or counterintuively – feel anything about my situation; I was in the moment celebrating the life that is. What was spiraling into a bad day suddenly became a peaceful day of content.
Little creatures, just by being, have the power to fill you. With hope. With believing in a higher power. And I knew, more than ever, that I had to honor myself, to be more protective of me, to get out of the relationship I was in and get back to basics.