Three weeks ago, on the first day of swimming lessons, I met another mom sitting by the pool. She was glowingly pregnant, watching her two gorgeous daughters take their lessons. We got to chatting, as moms will, about pregnancy and childbirth…
“So, do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?” I asked.
“We’ll find out soon. But I figure it’s probably a girl. I…my first child was also a girl…and we lost her.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I went into labor at 22 weeks.”
“That must have been horrible.”
“Well. Yes.” She looked out across the pool, steadying her heart. “But since all three so far have been girls…well, we assume this one is too. And this pregnancy has been fine.” She nodded to herself and repeated for emphasis, “Just fine.”
Monday of this week she told me on her way out after lessons,
“I’m going for an ultrasound! Hopefully we’ll find out if it’s a girl or a boy!”
“How exciting! Will you be telling people?” I meant, will you tell ME? So I can live vicariously through you?
“Great! See you tomorrow!”
But she wasn’t there the next day.
Or the next.
Today she came back, and made my way over to her as soon as I could.
“How are you? Is everything ok?”
Her eyes were still – submerged under the effort not to panic. She’d been in the hospital, fighting to stop sudden preterm labor. For now all is well, and they think she’ll be able to carry to term. Carry her daughter to term.
A small knot of mothers gathered around her, listening to her story, feeling her fear with her. We promised to pray for her and said the most comforting things we could think of.
There isn’t all that much to say.
Today was the last day of swimming lessons, and as I made my way out to the parking lot, carrying pounds of swim paraphernalia, trailing tired boys in swim trunks, I glanced back. This woman was sitting alone, one arm held protectively over her belly. She stared at the ground. I suspect she was seeing memories. I whispered a prayer, a quick plea for mercy, then turned away.
As I made my way to the van, I thought about her, and the fact that I would probably never know what happened to her. For a moment she lived her life within my sphere, and now she’s drifted back out. People do, wander in and out. The threads of their life stories brush past me in the wind, and then are gone.
I like to think that someday I’ll know how each story ended. Better still, someday I hope to see how each thread came together into a whole.
I believe the whole makes infinite sense, no matter how any one thread looks.
But I pray her story includes a healthy baby about eighteen weeks from now. In my limited understanding, that just makes sense.