The babies in Mr. ABF's family came at the end of summer. Mr. ABF, who had been doing rather well all things considered up to this point, took a self-imposed break from his family, close and extended. A month or so into the silence, he received a phone call from a mediator relative, speaking the "concerns" of others, who told Mr. ABF that perhaps he should "quit moping, suck it up, and get over it." Mr. ABF nicely told him he was grieving, not moping, and he'd deal with it on his own sweet time, thankyouverymuch. (There might have been a few more swear words in there.) The overall message came through loud and clear: according to a number of family members, six months was really time enough to mourn a child, and now it was high time to return to happyville where people danced and rejoiced in the streets about live babies and bought them copious amounts of Carters.
Days after this conversation, Mr. ABF received a text message from the mom of one of the babies, and arguably the closest relative (and spouse) we had cut out, both emotionally and geographically. She informed Mr. ABF that mediator relative of the rude phone call did not speak for her, and we should take our time. Mr. ABF wrote back something about reconnecting, and she shot back: "It's not reconnecting. You will never have to 'reconnect' with us. It will always just be hello." We knew these two, and baby, would be patient, kind, and have our backs even in our silence.
Last Sunday after the other side of Mr. ABF's family stood us up at Maddy's memorial service, I had an epiphany: I thought we had a supportive oasis in them, but I realize now the only thing going for the asshats was that they didn't have children. On the other hand, the relatives with baby would have gone to the service with us. In driving snow. We could've told them that space was limited, and they would have gone anyway, walked to the top of the parking garage, and lit candles there. And so I decided: Baby be damned, we need them. We need the support. Mr. ABF needs the support. Right now, it's more important that we be around people who give a shit. I told him to call them.
And yesterday they came for dinner. My last full conversation with them was February 18: they were in the car on the way to deliver dinner to Bella and the caretakers, and I told them we were removing Maddy's life support. When I came home that night, I simply asked them where Bella was, went upstairs, and that was the last I saw of them until yesterday when they entered my house, now with their son. It was a bit familiar, and a bit awkward, and a bit sad. There were the proverbial laughter and tears, and at times one intermingled with the other. They tried desperately (and at times, rather comically) hard to shove the baby in a corner and not discuss him (which actually worked fairly well seeing as he slept a lot of the time), I desperately tried to peek at him occasionally, gauging my nausea, and had Bella run and pull a toy out of the outgrown toybox for him.
The dagger in the heart came when I was making salad for dinner. I opened my refrigerator and there, on the middle shelf between the milk and peanut butter, was a baby bottle. And the entire six days came flooding back in a millisecond. All I could see were the tiny, yellow-topped plastic, carefully labeled bottles of breastmilk waiting to be transported to the hospital. And the memory of opening the freezer a few days after Maddy's death and finding a couple of bottles tucked in there that were summarily washed down the drain and forgotten until yesterday. And the never-before-thought wonder if any baby had been able to take advantage of the milk I had donated. And the abysmal realization that I will in all likelihood never feed another baby again.
It sucked horribly. It hurt like hell. But we'll see them again, the rellies with the baby. I'm not sure about the asshats. We're trying to work our way through that landmine as I'm sure they have no clue they did anything wrong, or that we're remotely perturbed about last Sunday. I'm fairly sure they think they're doing us some sort of favor by not calling and "interfering" with our "private time" or whatever the hell.
This time of year is just so magical, isn't it.