Depth of My Sorrow

As a writer I carry my words in my pocket like some sort of mystic. They are easily accessible, allowing me to draw on my powers in times of need. But these past two weeks, my powers have been useless. In times where I need my amulets the most, I am left with two rather meek words, because I could never find enough of them to say what I mean, what I feel. These past two weeks I’ve only been left with “I’m sorry.” This just does not convey the depth of my sorrow or the ache in my heart.

Three is the magic number. Death comes in threes; Larry, Curly, and Moe; The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit; Snap, Crackle, and Pop. For me the tragedy came in threes, but the tragedies weren’t mine. These tragedies belongs to a triumvirate of ladies, whose names all begin with the letter J. Weird how life happens like that, isn’t it?

J1 is a coworker, a 39-year-old freckle-faced brunette, sharp, smart, and the ability to bring me to tears with her quick wit. J1 was five months pregnant, the first time she had carried a child so long. She confided in having problems, but was excited now that she’d come this far along. She wore impending motherhood like a kindergartener wears new shoes she just tied on her own.

But then a Monday came and J1 wasn’t in the office. There was much worry. Her travel had been restricted. We worried that she was going to be put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. We talked with furrowed brows and hushed whispers about our concern. Tuesday came and still no J1. That afternoon an awful meeting filled with shouts and very uncorporate-like conduct, and finally some news.
“She lost her baby this weekend.”

I looked around the table and watched goose bumps form on the arms of my co-workers, including J2. Eyes were blinking fast to ward away tears, and faces crumpled. The shouts of three minutes ago were quickly forgotten in the wake of such tragedy. Sorrow filled the room.

A full seven days later J1 was back in the office. She mourns with a grace I hadn’t thought possible. She accepts the well-wishes of her co-workers with a slight bow of her head, and watery eyes. She thanked me for the flowers, and told me it’s ok to touch her that she won’t break. She talked quietly of the horror.

And all I could say was, “I’m sorry.”

That Tuesday afternoon, J2 and I head for lunch. J2 is a quiet, shy woman, her small body packed full of dynamite, she’s training to run a marathon. I’ve never had a working relationship with anyone like I have with J2. We’re a well-oiled machine, creating magic from the half-thoughts and semi-ideas of the marketing department. J2 and I communicate on some other plain, with half-sentences and knowing looks, we read each other’s minds.

On the way to lunch, I talked animatedly about J1’s quick return. I talk about how strong she is, and her grace. How seeing J1 with Ed, a new father, nearly breaks my heart right in two.

“I can’t even look at her,” J2 said in the confined cab of my truck, her voice cracking. “I hate to throw this all on you. But on Friday, I had a miscarriage. That’s why it was the worst day of my life. I didn’t know how much I wanted that baby until the nurse told me I had lost it. I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. I haven’t told my mom or my sisters or anyone. Only Jason knows. We don’t want to give that heartache to our family.” Then she started crying.

And all I could say was, “I’m sorry.”

Then there’s J3, a witty-writer friend. Filled with life and drama, her lazy voice has a gravelly drawl that will throw out barb that will bring you to your knees with laughter. She has the kind of courage I envy. In our daily e-mail exchanges she complains about getting her period and the cramps so unbearable she has to stay home in bed. I commiserate as only a fellow-woman can, and then she confesses that this monthly reminder of her womanhood is also a reminder of her failure to conceive. She and her husband have been battling infertility for quite some time now. Each month the cramps remind her of the baby she didn’t make.

And all I could say was, “I’m sorry.”

That’s all I’m left with, those two feeble words. I have others, I have lot of others, but I keep them to myself. Somehow the “at least you still. . .” and the “there’s always. . .” and anything else I could possibly dream up to say falls so short. To say that my heart breaks for them is nothing, my heartbreak could not touch what they are going through. My words cannot soothe, so I just stick with “I’m sorry.”

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