Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,
When you looked at me with tears in your eyes and said, "I am so sorry I didn't know how bad it was for you. Can you forgive me?" My heart broke just a little more. I didn't realize until that excruciating moment I wasn't the only casualty in the PPD war. The Gorilla had stomped on you too, using my shoes.

I patiently explained the 'syndrome' using words I only recently acquired. Like a toddler learning the word for juice, I stumbled and mixed some things up. The Gorilla howled beside me, "It only confirms my existence! This only reminds you that you are sick! You are a sick mom! You are a broken woman!"

You listened and asked questions, pausing and sighing at all the right times. You said, "I know that's not you. I know you acted (or didn't act) because you were stuck." The Gorilla huffed into a corner.

Seeing the concern in your eyes, I reassuringly said, "If you had seen me everyday you would have known." Living four hours away from a BFF is convenient for the Gorilla. At a distance it takes less energy to hold up the thin wall of normalcy.

I am a wall professional. I had a broad panel in front of my 'reality' that was pathetically only 1 mm thick. I held it up proud, ignoring it's transparency in places, the cracks in others. I went to work. I bathed my children. I made dinner. I got up in the morning. I made it through the day. Depressed people, weak people, mentally ill people don't do those things. I was strong. I could hold it up. Until I couldn't.

Friend, when I began to make plans and didn't call it wasn't because I forgot your number. It was because I forgot myself. I didn't abandon you, I abandoned anything requiring effort beyond holding up the wall, as thin as veneer. In your graciousness, you said, "I'm glad you're back." I just realized I went somewhere. I went behind the wall and it fell on me.

I e-mail now. I plan playdates as accountability to get together. I write your names down in my calendar. I call for no, and sometimes, good reasons. It's because of you, friend, that I can put the Gorilla in a corner, get out of bed and hike with you and the children. It's because of you I remember how much I really like Jazzercise. It's because of you I know that peace isn't the absence of work or strife or hard times it's the ability to be calm in my heart (and the ability to laugh at random putt-putt jokes). It's because of you that I can be brave and tell my heart to beat again.

Now that the wall is down I can look into your eyes. I can see myself reflected there. I can see someone I am only beginning to know. A mother who will give you a high five when your son cares for his lovies and who will cry with you as our babies hold hands to navigate the scary woods. A sister who will roll under grape laden tables in laughter, soul and spirit deep. A girlfriend who will delight in cheesy eighties movies and John Cusack obsessions. A buddy who can plot and play endlessly over scrapbooks. A ya-ya who can laugh about talking on the phone in the only peaceful and kid free space in the house-the bathroom. I can see these things-because you are still here.

Dear friend, can you ever forgive me? You already did. Because you are still here.

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