I first observed Madeline (as I’ll call her here) from a distance and I was remarkably intimidated by her. This was due to nothing she had done but because of my own superficial judgement. I was in a new situation and there were so many girls who knew each other so well already huddling around in little circles chit chatting and laughing.
Madeline was every bit as pretty as her name sounds and seemed to me someone who thought much of herself. I had instantly labeled her a snob and the girlfriend of someone very tattooed and clearly I would never have anything in common with her so I should likely just steer clear.
Of course looking back now I chuckle to myself at the ridiculous judgments. Does it not always seem that those we typecast the quickest and harshest are the ones we’re most wrong about? Perhaps that’s just me…
As life would have it I ended up sitting next to Madeline in the restaurant where we were having drinks. My first surprise was to hear her decline a beverage from the waiter as she wouldn’t be drinking tonight. She whispered sweetly to me that she doesn’t drink anymore. She had survived a reckless teenage night of way too much alcohol and it had taught her a serious lesson. She hadn’t had a drink since, nor did she think she ever would again. So even amongst her peers she wasn’t the least bit tempted to give in to the shots that were being ordered and passed around. I quietly admired her boldness given the situation.
I learned much about Madeline that night. I learned that underneath her thick make-up and dyed very dark tresses that there was, by far, the sweetest young woman I had ever met. She asked me many questions and made me feel completely comfortable as the newcomer in the crowd. She went out of her way for people, doing whatever she could for them in a very servant like manner. She was the very definition of kindness. Her smile radiated.
A few months later I remembered this first meeting and I told her about it. I even, in stalker-esque fashion, told her that she was now, for sure, my favourite person in the whole bunch. We laughed and marveled together at my preconceptions that were misconceptions and inside I slapped my proverbial hand and vowed never to judge another 20 something girl by her make up and hair.
At an event some months later Madeline, in a very Madeline type way of not wanting to attract too much attention to herself or be the center of anything, announced to one girl at the table that she was pregnant. It only took 4.7 seconds for the entire table of 24 girls to become aware of it and we made a scene of it anyways. She smiled in her sweet way and just sort of shrugged.
I could see something behind her smile, only because it was something all too familiar to me. There was a hesitation. A fear. But a fear that wasn’t to be spoken out loud. Just something in her eyes that only one who had felt this same fear could pick up on, and pick up on in but a blink. As the evening was winding down I shimmied my way to the end of the table next to her and asked her how she was doing. “Good,” she said with a smile and a nod. “Really?” I pushed, “Are you okay?” She looked me straight in the eye and without a flinch said, “Everyone keeps asking me if I’m excited and I say yes but I’m really not. I’m terrified. I’m not married. This was not planned. I’m too smart and too old (a ripe old 22) to even think about an abortion but I’m so young to have a baby.”
I hugged her. hard. I told her a bit of my story and explained to her that she did not need to be excited right now. Not today. Not even tomorrow. I told her not to force it. Or fake it. I told her that pregnancy is a huge deal and huge deals don’t always make the best surprises. It’s not like it was her birthday and someone threw her a surprise party and she was thrilled because really – if its your birthday you expect something to happen. It’s more like someone showing up and painting your living room without asking. When you get home and see your new room they will look at you and say, “Well? What do you think? Do you love it?” And you probably won’t because they didn’t ask you and you kind of liked the old paint colour and it’s not that the new colour is bad its just all so unexpected. But over time you realize that the paint colour is good. And it may take months but it will grow on you bit by bit every time you walk in the room.
She nodded seeming to understand my example but was clearly apprehensive to believe it for her. I assured her that she would grow to love the paint colour. I guaranteed it.
And she did. I watched as she grew more and more comfortable with her changing body. I watched as her and her significant other moved to a new space that would be so much more accommodating to a family of 3. I smiled with every fiber of my being when she told me the gender of the baby and the name that they had decided upon and I could see it in her eyes, she loved the paint colour.
Her little one was born. A very picture of perfection as all brand new borns seem to be. Over the following weeks I saw Madeline a few times, the first time looking very tired and asking important questions like, “how do you even manage to have a shower?” But as every new mom does, within 6 weeks she had figured it out. I saw her just last week and she gushed as she showed me pictures of her now 2 month old most precious little bundle. I told her she looked fabulous because she did. Things were going so well.
Madeline’s world stopped 2 nights ago. Her perfect little bundle, her paint colour that she had grown to love, to adore even, to be so thankful for and to embrace with all the love her amazingly kind, sweet and now motherly heart could handle without completely gushing over, left her. The reasons are unknown at this point. SIDS, the most horrible 4 letters a mother can imagine, is all the doctors can tell her.
I can’t even begin to fathom her loss. My heart aches, so what must her heart feel? My mind is perplexed and overwhelmed with questions so what must her mind be thinking? I can only imagine that the world has ceased to exist for her right now as she deals with a loss this big.
I tell you this only so that you can pray for her. I don’t know what else there is to do. But pray.