I have a friend who has had a very different fertility journey than I have. She is already a grandmother, always wanted kids, had them early and without difficulty (conception, that is) despite being told she might not in fact be able to have any. She’s now an empty-nester – which explains how, on short notice, we could meet at our favourite cocktail lounge last night for a drink.
She’s been supportive of me (and understanding) all the way. From back in the mid-90s when I was torn about whether I wanted kids or not, through my ectopic pregnancies and now, my no kidding blogging life. She talks when I need to talk, and doesn’t when I don’t want to. She’s one of my few (I think) real life friends who reads this blog, and if I talk about having a reasonable friend, it’s her! (Though I did also post about her here.)
She has prompted a number of my posts, and I have another post brewing about something we’ve talked about. But today I wanted to note something that surprisingly and almost instantly had our eyes welling up. She has an elderly uncle, and she’s a good niece (I should copy this to my nieces as a less-than-subtle hint!). She visits him at his house in the South Island, and has him to stay here. He and his wife (now gone) never had children. My friend says her mother recalls them buying a pram, but then nothing happened. I suspect that something happened – a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy – that meant the pram was never filled. The family – or perhaps just the matriarch – were judgemental about his wife. I’ve often suspected my own mother-in-law being judgemental about me in the same way. This was the 1950s and 60s, so very much a sign of the times.
Recently Uncle D visited my friend. She says something came up about him having no children, and she said to him simply, “I’m so sorry.” He looked at her and nodded. It was the first time she ever remembers it being acknowledged between them. We agreed, as our eyes filled with tears and we sipped our drinks in an attempt to recover, that this could have been the first time anyone ever said that to him. I hope not. But I’m glad she said it.
In the same way that even though I hope all of you have at least one friend like A, I am also glad that we all have each other. We all need to know that at least one person in the world sees us, and understands, and says “I’m so sorry.”
Even when we're happy, free, and drinking on a Wednesday evening in spring.