Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

The last morning in East Hampton I woke before sunrise to take pictures of Blue's name in the sand. My friend who hosted, OG (a nickname I secretly used for him when we were dating for about a month last fall), had originally offered to go with me, but when he heard what time I was leaving the house, he blanched. He offered his car instead. It was okay; I actually wanted to go alone.

The weekend was so intense emotionally, almost too intense. The films we saw during the festival were depressing at best, disturbing at worst. I walked out of our Saturday night film after the two ladies on the end next to me did the same. I went across the street for some tea, then spent the next 30 minutes sitting outside on a bench, sobbing into the phone with my mom on the other end trying but failing to console me. OG's girlfriend came to collect me. The tears were still streaming down my face uncontrollably as I met up with the others. She had filled them in, for which I was grateful. My eyes dried as we drove to dinner, and OG's girlfriend stayed by my side as we all had a much-needed drink at the bar. It turns out she lost a pregnancy a few years ago. She and her husband, who had a vasectomy reversal, lost their IVF twins when their doctor detected that the embryos were not growing into fetuses. By the end of their IVF experience, they were exhausted, and had realized they did not want the same future together. She, too, was on her own after baby loss. And she was so generous with her support, with sharing her story and with listening to mine. When OG said I was "freaking out" about not wanting to see the movie with the pregnant protagonist, she told him I was not "freaking out," but that I was in pain. She was such a good friend, and I had just met her!

After I'd taken all my pictures, I sat in the sand staring at the ocean. A woman and her companion walked by, not too far away, and I'd wished they weren't there. I didn't turn my head or say 'good morning.' When they walked back, she stopped to ask me if I was okay. She said she was a psychologist in town...did I need help? I looked up at her to say I was fine, unable to keep the tears from my eyes. She told me that whatever it was, it wouldn't stay the same. It couldn't stay the same. Nothing ever does.

I watched one tear roll down each of her cheeks. I wondered how desperate I must have looked. To myself, and for the sake of my own sanity, I suppose I pretended things weren't that bad. But I wasn't fooling this woman. I told her a little bit of what I was going through. I patted the sand next to me and she sat. I told her I noticed her crying, asked if I reminded her of someone. She told me about her sister who had been disabled at her very premature birth. She did not hesitate to give this explanation, but the thing was, she cried before I told her my story. She cried at the sight of me.

She wanted to make sure I wasn't thinking of going for a swim. I hadn't been, but the suggestion didn't seem half bad. As we stood she told me it would be okay. That I was a good person. "How do you know?" I asked as she embraced me. "Oh, I can tell." She offered her full name and her email address, and told me to call her anytime. She gave me another hug. I stood on the sand for a time after she left, contemplating what she'd said, contemplating what made her reach out to me. When I finally turned away from the ocean, a part of me was content to believe her.

1 comment:

  1. You are a good person.
    I don't know you, but if I could, I would sit with you and cry with you for all you've lost.
    It will never be the same, but it will be better than this. Reach out to those around you who understand and care for you. It seems there are many. Which is further evidence that:
    you are a good person.