Of seashells and shoelaces…

Hello dear readers! Eric here again. I was thinking this morning about what to write for this week’s post, and as I often do, I started by looking back over the past few months to see “where we’ve been” in terms of topics and tales. And I realized, it’s been a pretty heavy few weeks. Between Cathy and I, we’ve talked a lot of late about grief, about anger, about resentment and fear and disappointment and loss. All important things to discuss to be sure, and all very real parts of the emotional journey that accompanies struggling with infertility.

Still, I thought perhaps this week I’d offer a different view, one that is happy, hopeful and perhaps even helpful amid those same struggles. I thought you should also hear, and might like to know, that there’s a lot of good and a lot of joy that can come out of the process and its aftermath. Even coming from, perhaps especially come from, someone for whom that struggle was ultimately unsuccessful, I realized that I’ve actually had an amazing few weeks when it comes to family and friends and children, and you should know that those weeks too will come, even if (heaven forbid) you too are unable in the end to have a family of your own.

What’s interesting about this “amazing” time is that there was nothing particularly amazing about it at all. Nothing truly extraordinary or unusual happened, but that isn’t to say nothing special happened. Cathy and I spent some days at the seashore with a lifelong close friend and neighbor, her husband and their two beautiful little girls aged 3 and 5. I also saw my best friend and her daughter (one and a half now), who is goddaughter to Cathy and myself. And you know what we did?

We went for ice cream from the old scoop shack by the beach.

I watched the oldest of the kids work studiously, tongue stuck out and eyes focused, on tying one of her shoes herself.

I stood by as the three-year old ran back and forth to the water’s edge with a pail of sand, which apparently a three-year old can do 147 times and find every trip completely fascinating.

We walked along the harbor and were handed every single seashell within a two-mile radius, each one cooler than the last.

And I stared in wonder as our goddaughter ran to a nearby parking garage and yelped in through an open window to make the whole structure reverberate as her silly sounds echoed back at her, amplified to a chorus by all the parallel planes of concrete. Every time the mighty building sang with her little song, she burst into squeals of glee and she preened and pranced, taken with her own amazing little superpower.

We laughed, we smiled, we shook our heads and collected pockets full of cracked oyster shells and sea glass and napkins covered in chocolate sauce. And I realized that somewhere, somewhen along the way, being around children we know and love went from being something painful and heartbreaking and agonizing, to something we can fully enjoy and embrace and love. To be sure, there’s a longing and wishing and wistfulness that will never fully go away. You can never look at children playing and laughing and not think in some little part of your brain, “What if?” and “If only…”. But I think you should know that that part of the experience becomes smaller, becomes quieter with time, and you can, and you will, see joy and happiness and little smiling faces one day and suddenly find that they make you more happy than sad.

I know that if you’re in the deep, storm-tossed center of the process this may be at best of little use and at worst hard to believe. But with all the focus of late on the powerful and difficult emotions you may face, I hope perhaps you’d like to know that, even for those who never succeed with having their own children, there are good and joy-filled days ahead, days of ice cream and echoes and seashells and shoelaces.

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