It used to be that if you were the unlucky person to wander over to me in the meat department and ask if I had any children, I would respond with something to the effect of, “My daughter was born with a very rare form of Leukemia. It was totally unexpected. She started chemo at six days old and developed a terrible fungal infection. We had to make unthinkable decisions. She passed away in my arms at twenty-eight days old,” etc. etc. etc. The question was awkward. My response was awkward. And usually we both walked away wishing the conversation had never happened.
After the twins were born the questions changed. “Do you have any children?” suddenly morphed into, “Are these your first?” or “Do you have any other little ones at home?”
Sometimes, when I am out making new friends and people ask these questions, I almost feel like I have to preface telling them about Peyton with some sort of a disclaimer that I am not trying to dampen the mood. I know that they are just asking to learn more about me and forge a new friendship but there is just no way to spin the loss of a child that isn’t uncomfortable and sad. Regardless, Peyton is such a huge part of who I am that to know me they have to know her.
But this is not how I feel when it comes to strangers.
I used to think that I was doing some great disservice to Peyton’s memory and life if I didn’t mention her every time the question was asked, but after seeing how these conversations tended to play out, I now feel the opposite. The moments when I choose not to share Peyton’s life with strangers are less about protecting myself, and more about protecting her from the ridiculous notion that because she died as a baby, and I have gone on to have other children, her death is somehow acceptable.
The problem with being honest when strangers ask is that you then have to brace yourself for the onslaught of stupid comments bound to follow. “It’s for the best, can you even imagine how full your hands would be with a three year old AND twins.” Or “Everything happens for a reason.” Or “You have one of each now, so see… everything works out in the end.”
I usually can gauge from the first ten seconds of meeting a person if they are worthy of my time and story, and some strangers I do tell about Peyton, ALL about Peyton, because I get the sense that they will be someone who will walk away better to have known about her rather than to be a person who will insult my love for her with stupid comments.
The reason I don’t share all of the details of Peyton with just anyone, is because I refuse to sit there and hear her worth insulted. She is too special to me; too sacred, too amazing, and far too loved for me to leave the door open to having her life minimized my some stranger’s platitudes.