The pinch happened when I moved a ziploc bag filled with coins from the top of the dresser into the drawer. I frowned. Rubbed my side. Continued the preparations for our trip.
The memory of that pinch stayed with me on the flight, but there were no other sensations. We landed in Toronto. Picked up a rental car and navigated to Etobicoke.
“Welcome to our home,” said my college buddy Eldon, giving me a brotherly hug as he met us at the door. I introduced my then-husband to him and his gracious wife presented their infant, swaddled in pink as she slept. How beautiful she was. (How lovely she is.) I snapped a photo of Eldon, his face bent close to this tiny creature.
Quintessential fatherhood. It remains among the most nearly perfect moments I’ve witnessed.
We shared our news. Their little girl woke in our rejoicing.
A smattering of bright red on my underwear tempered all that. I whispered the words to his wife. “Should I be concerned?”
My feet were lifted on the sofa, and I reclined. “It’s been a long flight,” she said, instructing Eldon to tug a blanket around my ankles while she settled to nurse their daughter.
“Just relax,” he said.
We shared college-day stories with our spouses, talked about the music we once played together. I tried to focus but my attention drifted as I counted the second-hand revolutions of my watch between the shearing of one pain and the shattering of the next. Eldon was the first to ask if I was okay.
We decided a trip to emergency was necessary. I went to the bathroom, but the sensation was different than ever before. There was a slithering, a slipperiness, a something wrong. The water reflected gradient shades of pink and someone screamed.
The hospital was crowded with robotic people. We were moved to a private room. Eldon watched, and then left and when he returned someone gave me a shot. Eldon pulled my then-husband aside, and explained contractions to him, hope-stealing thieves that they were.
After surgery, I sat in a wheelchair, alone-yet-not-alone in a room. Another woman wouldn’t stop screeching, “Hand me my baby. Where is he? Give me my baby!” I desperately wanted to give her a punch in the face instead. I was wheeled to a different room, continuing the hour of recovery, and I was now alone-yes-all-alone, a closed door blocking out her cries.
Back at Eldon’s home, I crouched on the floor of the shower and let the water pour over me. When the shower had melted the icicles from my body, I joined the others in the living room. Eldon was comforting his daughter.
“May I hold her?” I asked.
“Are you sure?”
“If I don’t…”
He handed her to me. I studied her nose, and marvelled at how she wrapped all of her fingers around one of mine.
Eldon wasn’t my husband. He was, and still is, my friend.
This post was written as part of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, for the theme of Connection. Though I don’t see my friend often (in fact, I’m trying to figure out if I’ve seen him since), I know these wisps in time have bound us together forever. We can’t always know how profoundly our actions connect us, one to the other. Sometimes the tiniest threads are made of the strongest steel.
Recently we spoke about this loss. I know he remembers. I love him for it.
Perhaps you have an Eldon in your life. Share your story in the comments, won’t you?