I noticed her straight away. I saw her watching as I put my son in a high chair and chatted to him while we waited for our drinks. He excitedly pointed out the various things on our table and as I named them, I could see her glancing our way. Watching. Smiling. As she walked past us, she asked me how old he was and said that I must be so proud of him. I couldn’t help but smile and answer with a resounding yes. Of course I’m proud of my little boy! He’s the kindest, most helpful little boy I’ve ever met and I’m so, so proud that he’s mine.
I didn’t give the lady too much thought after we left the table and headed to the playground. But then we walked past her and she noticed that I’m pregnant. She smiled, wished me good luck, and kept going. She had a look in her eyes that said “you have it all”. And I realized that I do…on the surface at least. I have a delightful seventeen-month-old son who was listening to my instructions and behaving so patiently as we waited for our drinks. I have a bump that reveals another precious baby is on the way, due in only three months. I was enjoying a lovely afternoon with my son, who was obviously enjoying himself too. But what that lady had no way of knowing was that I don’t have it all. Not really. While I loved sitting with Levi, drinking my chai as he enjoyed his babyccino, that’s not how it was meant to be. There should have been a two-year-old sitting with us, a little girl sipping on her own babyccino and giggling as her brother splashed the spoon in his. In every family photo, there is someone missing. Despite how it looks on the surface, I do not “have it all”.
Far from it.
My life, however it may seem on the surface, is just a shadow of what it should be.
The short interaction with that lady reminded me of a time soon after Ariella’s death. I was sitting in the mall at a local shopping centre and it took every ounce of strength to not burst into tears. It seemed as though every pregnant woman and every mum and baby had decided to go shopping that very day. I was used to seeing some around, but that day was worse; it felt like every other person “had it all” and then there was me. It was overwhelming to feel such jealousy towards people I didn’t even know. Never could I have imagined that two years later, someone else would be thinking that I had it all.
Some days it’s hard to remember that you can’t tell someone’s story just from what you see. The lady in the cafe had no way of knowing that I am just as proud of the daughter she couldn’t see as the son that she could. I had no way of knowing that day in the shops which of those pregnant mamas were as terrified of another loss as I am and which pram-pushing mamas were desperately missing the toddler that should have been holding their other hand. There’s no way of telling the shadows lurking in people’s lives from simply looking at the surface.
Moments like the ones with the lady in the cafe remind me to look deeper, to see beyond what is on the surface. I don’t like what caused the biggest shadows in my life, but do you know what?
Sometimes more beauty is found in shadows than you could possibly imagine.