These days, memories of Bella’s loss come back to me in fragmented flashbacks. A lot of these memories sneak up on my unexpectedly and involve the hurtful things ‘they did wrong’ Every now and again though, my heart swells with a memory of what someone did right.
I vividly remember the drive home from the hospital. The sun shining too brightly, seemingly mocking me and the darkness welling up in my soul. When I arrived home I wrapped myself in blankets, closed all the curtains, and hid away on our living room couch where the flood gates could open and I could cry my river of tears freely. Each time I’d come out of the darkness to check the dinging of a cell phone or the notification of an email message they’d be filled with kind yet empty request to assist us:
“What do you need?”
“How can I help?”
“What can I do?”
I’d ignore each of these messages though because there were so many of them and I honestly just didn’t know what I needed. I was mentally drained and I didn’t want to think about my needs. All I could think about was how much I wanted my baby. I wanted our life together as a family. I wanted anything but the hell I was living through. None of them could give me those things – so I left their calls to help unanswered.
Then it came. A kind gesture so small, but one that will forever be imprinted on my heart. The friend who simply sent the message, “Can we bring you dinner tonight?” I looked up at the clock only to realize it had been over 24 hours since I had eaten anything at all. Why yes, I thought. Food would be lovely. “Yes,” I replied. “Bring us anything you’d like”.
She even researched my gluten allergy and arrived a few hours later with a warm dish of Tuna Noodle Casserole – lovingly made with brown rice pasta and white rice flour. ” Put this in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 and you’ll be all set,” she said. Neither of us had ever had tuna noodle casserole before, but our famished bellies were ready to consume just about anything.
It was delicious.
That bowl of comfort food did exactly what it was intended to do. It brought me the promise that even in the face of darkness I could still find kindness in others, I could still live a well nourished life, and I could actually smile again.
Now, we make Tuna Noddle often in our house. I find I cook it on days when I need to lift my spirits and I need to be gentle on my soul. That single meal now brings me fond memories of my first baby girl, the kindness of those who were willing to help us out in our time of greatest need, and the friends who were bold enough to take charge and offer us specific guidance as they remembered her with us.
It’s these small vivid memories of kindness that I cling to when my grief unexpectedly strikes and are what I encourage you to remember today. What kind gestures, no matter how small, do you remember following your loss? Do any of them still bring you comfort when you are having a particularly down day? I’d love for you to share ‘the things they did right’ with me today in the comments below. Let’s celebrate the kindness of others and the little unexpected gestures that allow us to smile through our pain.