This story is rated 4 stars (3 ratings).

by Tanza

I Know

It was only a few days since Andrea had been discharged from hospital.  The midwives and doctors had been brilliant and friends and family came buzzing round to lend their words of advice, but nothing could lessen the grief that she held on to so tightly.  A grief that deafened her, even to the booming voice of her loudest, brashest friend.

In she came with a big smile on her face.  ''Hi hun, you look well, give us a hug.''  Andrea smiled gently up at her and reached weakly around to pat her on her back as she bent forward.  Jane banged her lips against Andrea's cheek and sat down beside her.  ''So, how's things now?'', she said with a big grin.  Andrea gave her a teary look.  ''Not great, pretty shit actually.''  Jane looked at her in a knowing way.  ''I do know what it's like you know.  My sister had a miscarriage a few years back and it really gets to you doesn't it?''  Andrea looked down at her own feet, turned inwards and with toes scrunched.  As she folded her arms around herself, she said, ''Yeah, it's a cow''. 

Jane looked around the room and Andrea followed her eyes to the piles of baby clothes and blankets that were neatly folded on the table.  ''What are you going to do with all that?'', she chirped.  ''I haven't even thought that far ahead, I'm still trying to get my head together after all this'', Andrea whispered.  Jane gestured with a circling finger at the piles.  ''I could take it all to the charity shop if you like.  Have you got some bags?  I'll take it with me now.''  She tilted her head and looked into Andrea's face.  ''I'll take them now, get them out of your way.  My cousin's just had a little girl, she could probably use some of it.  Where do you keep your bags?''  Andrea shook her head slightly, frowned and looked at the table.  ''No, they're fine there for now.  Did your sister just get rid of all her baby clothes when she lost her baby?''  Jane shrugged.  ''She hadn't bought any.  She doesn't usually buy anything until she's nearly ready to pop.''  Andrea sat, still with her arms wrapped tightly around herself...around her empty tummy.  ''So how did she cope?  I mean, how long did it take for her to feel better?''  Jane let out a loud sigh.  ''Oh, it was a good few weeks I think.  She was lucky.  she got pregnant again really quickly.  It was hard for her, in the beginning, to stop worrying. but after about two months, she knew it would be all right and it was.  So, yes, I do know how it feels, but you just bounce back.  You'll be up and around in no time, planning the next one!''  A heavy tear dripped down Andrea's cheek.  ''I hope so'', she said.  Jane smiled.  ''You'll soon snap out of it and be ringing me up to go out shopping for new baby stuff.  Who knows, it might be a boy next time, so we can enjoy ourselves buying lots of little blue bits.  I saw a lovely little tiny pair of jeans the other day.'' 

Andrea stared at Jane.  She could hear every word she was saying, but it just wasn't registering.  All she could hear was the sounds she had heard in the hospital.  While Jane was rambling on about how life's too short to be sitting around crying and there are worse things in life, Andrea was listening to her own thoughts.  She was in her own world, full of nothing but emptiness.  She remembered the silence that surrounded and suffocated her as she gave birth to her baby girl.  She could still hear the loud moans, followed by tiny screams and cries, from the delivery rooms next to her and along the labour ward.  The sounds of happiness that came after would haunt her forever.  The jealousy she felt, the anger she couldn't let out and the overwhelming feeling of uselessness had made a huge mess in her mind.  There was no room for anyone else's thoughts or feelings, only her own...and there wouldn't be for a very long time.  Nothing mattered to her, except the nothingness she felt inside and she held on to it with all the strength she had left.  She wasn't strong.  She couldn't brush herself off and carry on.  Every time she caught Ben looking at her, she felt she needed to look away in embarrassment.  She had failed to do the one thing for her husband that should come naturally...more naturally than anything in the world.  She had failed to keep his child safe.  She had let his baby daughter die.

As Andrea surfaced from her turmoil, Jane was still talking.  ''I've got loads to do today.  I just wanted to pop in to make sure you were okay.  I'm so glad you're all right.''  She gave Andrea a quick hug and pointed to the table.  ''Are you sure?''  Andrea nodded.  ''Yes...I'll deal with it.''  Ben walked with Jane to the front door.  ''Thanks for coming.''  Jane beamed.  ''Oh, don't be silly.  What are friends for?  She'll be fine in a few days.  You've just got to get on with it haven't you?  Look at my sister.  She lost a baby and snapped out if it just like that!''   Ben smiled, frowned and shut the door.

Andrea sat, now with her hands in her lap.  ''Do you want a cup of tea?'', Ben asked.  ''I'd love one, thanks.'', she answered.  Ben went to go into the kitchen, but turned and, instead, sat down beside Andrea.  ''I miss her too you know.  I know I can't feel the same as you, but I do still miss her.''  Andrea sniffed and put her head on Ben's shoulder.  ''I just feel lost.  I feel like I've been chucked in a deep hole and covered over so I can't move or get out...just like she will be next week.''  As Andrea spoke these words, she began to sob uncontrollably, realizing the reality of what she'd just said.  Ben sobbed with her, his own grief drawing from hers as she, again, tightly hugged her sore, empty tummy.

There was a knock at the door.  Ben kissed Andrea's cheek and went to answer it.  It was Sally, Andrea's friend from work.  Ben went into the kitchen.  As Sally came in, Andrea looked up at her and smiled.  Relief spread across her face.  She was so pleased to see her.  Sally sat down right next to Andrea and put her arms around her.  She squeezed her so very tightly.  Andrea let out a little sniff and Sally released her grip.  ''I wont ask how things are.'', she said.  ''I already know.''  Andrea nodded.  ''Yeah, I remember.  I had no idea what you must have gone through.  I just had no idea, until now.''   Sally held Andrea's hand and rubbed her arm.  ''It's something you can never understand, until it happens to you.''   Andrea shook her head.  ''I can't see past this you know.  I really can't.  I can't get my head around what's been happening these last few days.  I'm supposed to be cuddling my baby, dressing her in all the things I bought for her and putting her to bed in her own little bed.  Instead, I've been arranging her funeral and deciding what flowers she would want on her grave!''  Sally looked at her and said, ''I know.''.   Ben handed them both a cup of tea and went back into the kitchen to get his own.   Then, all three of them sat quietly drinking their tea.  ''We just had a lovely visit from Jane.'', said Ben.  Sally raised an eyebrow.  ''Yes, I met her on her way out.  Apparently, she's sorted you out and you'll be as right as rain in a few days.''   Ben growled.  ''She really gets on my nerves.  You wouldn't believe the stuff she was coming out with.  She didn't even ask what we'd called her, like she wasn't important at all.''  Sally frowned.  ''Oh yes I would believe it!''  

Ben stood up to go back into the kitchen.  ''I'm going to phone work, they need to know what's happening.''    He left the room and the two friends sat quietly looking at the floor.  ''It will take a lot of time, but it will get easier.'', Sally said.  ''I hope so.  At the moment, I just feel like my life's a joke.  I can't even think about what I'm going to do in the next five minutes, let alone the next few days or weeks.  There's nothing now she's gone.  All I keep thinking about is the hospital, the nurses faces, their sad faces.  I'm still hearing other people's babies crying their first cries and wishing it wasn't me that had the one that didn't cry.  I hated watching the other fathers strutting around with their new babies, showing them off to anyone who would look, while Ben had to sit with me trying not to see it all.  I'm gutted for him.  I did that to him.''   Sally gripped Andrea's hand.  ''You didn't choose for her to die.  It's not your fault, but it's normal for you to feel like this...I did.''  Andrea looked at the table.  ''I don't know.  Every day I wake up and, for just a few seconds, I forget what's happened.  Then, it all floods in and I remember it all.  The pain of that is so awful, but those few moments are so wonderful.  It's like having her back for a split second...like it never happened.  But, then, it makes the pain of remembering even stronger when it kicks in.''  Sally nodded.   ''I know.''  

Andrea and Sally sat together and, as Andrea explained how she felt, she wasn't met with strong and patronizing advice.  She wasn't instructed to pull herself together, or told 'That's life, you just have to get on with it'.  She was honest about how she felt and, after she'd sobbed as much as her emotions would let her, she just sat quietly with Sally, telling her the odd thought as it came into her head.

Ben stood in the kitchen, listening.  He knew there was no instant cure for their grief, but he was so very relieved, after these endless days of intense silence, to hear his wife...releasing her feelings, being honest about them, sharing them.  More than that, though, was his relief at the one answer Andrea received to each and every upset she described...an answer that  only Sally could provide her with.  There is only one answer Andrea needed to hear.....''I know.''.

© Tanza 2011


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