We only spent 11 months in Ohio. It was a difficult year, my first year of full-time teaching. It was also a wonderful year, because we had the most fabulous people surrounding us. I didn’t realize then how lucky we were, to find such kindred spirits over so short a time. I know now that it is extraordinary to find a community so welcoming of strangers, and transient ones, at that. Professionally and personally, I now realize that that year in Ohio was a gift.
Among the friends we made were T. and K., who were building their fabulously up-to-date Brady Bunchesque family. They brought three older children into their relationship, had one daughter together, and were pregnant with their collective fifth. They were easy to talk to, active in the community, and on the correct side of all political issues (in my opinion). Their daughter, R., became one of Samuel’s favorite friends, and he cried over missing her for months after we moved. We’ve kept in touch via Facebook since we left Ohio, liking each other’s family posts. I also look to K. to keep me from being lazy in my politics.
Recently, they welcomed a sixth girl into their family, another K. But this morning I woke up to the news that baby K died unexpectedly yesterday morning, at 16 days old. I just have no words for the shock and pain of this news, and I know that’s absolutely nothing compared to what they’re feeling. I am so unfathomably sad for all of them, devastated that any of them have to feel this pain, that their other girls, especially the little ones, have to know how cruel life can be.
I drove Samuel to school in the rain today, feeling numbness, tinged with a familiar tingling sensation in my chest and arms. It’s grief, or the remnants of it, making it so even the most familiar of objects, a steering wheel, seemed to sting my hands. Obviously I was focused on driving the car safely, but I was also trying to think of something, anything I could do or say to help. There’s not much I can do, I know, beyond think of them, and say that I am.
They are a beautiful family, and the only comfort I can find is the certainty that their friends and family in that little Ohio town will rally around them. I hope they keep coming around, keep offering food and hugs for now, and love and support forever. Because at times like this, and when I’m struggling, I always remember the best thing anyone said to us six years ago: It never gets better, it just gets easier.
Whoever reads this, please don’t tell me you’re sorry or offer me words of wisdom. Please just think of them, and wish them comfort, peace, and eventually, joy again.