The picture you're seeing is of me and my matron of honor on my wedding day. Her name is MaryBeth, and she is as complicated and complex a woman as I. That fact both cements and fractures our relationship. (How's that for a dichotomy?)
MB and I share memories that are more than nostalgic and fleeting. She was my matron of honor; I hosted her baby shower. I was one of the first people to hold her daughter; she was the first person who knew about my inaugural miscarriage.
Over the past year and a half, we have drifted apart. It would be easy to blame the distance on our respective spouse's jobs for causing the distance, but it would be dishonest. Geographically, sure. But emotionally? It was a mutual, conscious separation.
Oh, we're Facebook friends, and each other's phone numbers are still programmed into our phone books. So we've kept tabs on each other, and I think we were both ambivalently comfortable with the way things were. Ironically enough, we had spoken for the first time in many months just a few weeks ago.
As I waited for Duncan's arrival last Tuesday, chapters and stories from my life scrolled through my mind like movie trailers, and I realized that MaryBeth needed to know what what going on with our family before the emailing detailing Duncan's birth went out en masse.
So I called her, and got her voice mail. I hesitated as I listened to her greeting; should I leave a detailed message, or just tell her to call me? I knew the likelihood of triggering a vicious round of phone tag was pretty high, so I quickly blurted out my news:
MaryBeth, it's Monica. There isn't really an easy way to tell you this, and I'm sorry to leave a voice mail, but I wanted you to know before you got an email. I'm in labor. We lost the baby. If you want to call me back, I've got some time to kill..."
Or something like that. Honestly, I don't have a clue what I said to her machine. But she got the gist, because she called me back.
And for almost two hours, all the complications and complexities of our relationship fell away, and she was just there for me. She let me tell Duncan's story, she offered her opinion about my non-working epidural. We talked about Alyssa's pacifier farewell, and about what babies men can be when they are sick. We sat through the silences that fell at times, and when we finally said goodbye, I knew that 200 miles away, her heart was breaking along with mine.
And 8 hours later when she received my text -- Duncan Thomas, 5/19/09, 8:14 PM -- she texted back "I love you." Even in the grief of the moments surrounding me, my heart filled with thankfulness for a friend who stood by me when it mattered the most.
MB, thank you for taking "duty" those two hours on Tuesday. You don't know how much it meant. And I love you, too.