I've known for weeks now that tonight was coming. The Christmas Tea. One of my favourite Christmas events every year. I have been blessed by The Christmas Tea for a decade now.
The last time I went to The Christmas Tea was 2 years ago. I had tiny little 2 month old Eva with me snoozing in her carseat. Our first mother/daughter event. I was so excited to bring her with me to The Christmas Tea because it's a grown-up ladies event (nursing babies allowed). I remember thinking that this would be the only Tea that she could come to till she was 14.
Two years ago I was so happy to have my first daughter. Two years ago my friend Paula was joyfully pregnant. I remember her happy, radiant face. In January 2011 her wee son, Eric, died and was born. The joy left Paula's face. I haven't ever really seen it again. In August 2011, Eva died. It seemed like I would never see light again. My constant companions were only tears and complete heartache.
Tonight was pretty good, considering. I sat with Isabelle, my mom, and Holly. We had a great time. Enjoying snacks and the play and dessert. Mmmm. Eva accompanied me again this year. On a pendant around my neck, and in my heart. It's a good thing I didn't go last year. I could not have stomached all the cheeriness.
At The Christmas Tea I had two memorable encounters. One happened when I was re-filling (yes re-filling) my delicious hot chocolate, there was another woman also re-filling hers. She was chatting to some other ladies and didn't say hello to me. Not really a big deal there but if you consider that the last time I went to The Christmas Tea I counted her as one of my best friends, she was at Eva's birth, and her son is one of the only boys my son wanted at his birthday party, then it would be surprising. She walked away without acknowledging my presence and as she left I said "Helloo A". I sickened myself by saying hello when there are so many other things I would rather have said. But I also didn't want to be part of the total ignoring of me that she has done since February 15th 2012, so 'hello' it was. Since Eva's death there are some friends that have gotten much closer to me, there have been some that have slowly drifted away through their choice, and sometimes mine. But there is only one that I can say I know the exact day I had a conversation with this person. The exact day our friendship ended. And that is something I might blog about another day, it's been on my mind alot. Today is not the day. Today is about The Christmas Tea...and this inadvertent meeting was part of the Tea, unfortunately.
The other memorable encounter was I met a woman who had taken a parenting class with me when Eva was a baby. She came up to me all happy and excited and said "Do you remember me from Love and Logic? You have a Vincent. I have a Vincent..." Yes I remembered her, and her Vincent. I was a little cool because she obviously had no idea that Eva had died and I didn't know how to gently break it to her in this room full of merry women. But tell her I did and she asked me what had happened. She was emotional and kind. And then she said she had to go now and cry. I let her go but later went down to the bathroom and sought her out. We had a nice chat in the ladies room, where most meaningful conversations happen. She told me that she had a sister who had had a stillborn baby due to heart complications (you know your bubble is burst when people you barely know tell you about other people's dead children, but there is a comfort to me in hearing about those children. I am not alone). She thanked me for being real and I thanked her for asking about Eva. I can't help but compare that very real conversation with an almost-stranger to the complete ignorance of someone who used to be a close friend.
Part of the play was about friendship and how we need to be forgiving of others because there is so much to miss out on if we're not. I thought about A. Do I need to be forgiving of her? I have forgiven her. For dropping me at the darkest time of my life. I have forgiven the woman in my church. I can't hold on to my hurt and anger but I hate the churning in my stomach when I see either one of those women. I wish A hadn't been at The Christmas Tea tonight. I wish I hadn't seen her there and been snubbed once again. I wish I didn't care.
If you had told me last year that I would go (and enjoy) The Christmas Tea I would have never believed you . Never thought that joy could cross my doorstep again. And that I could even tell someone about Eva's death without breaking down into a sobbing, weeping mess. But it's true, what they say, the pain lessens and though Eva is with me every moment of every day, on the peripheral of everything I do. She is with me and the pain is not so intense. How is this possible? Only God knows.
Nettie (the almost-stranger) told me that her sister would say that at least one of her sons had a perfect upbringing. It's true, in many ways. At least one of my children is having a perfect upbringing. Can you imagine childhood in heaven? I wish I was there.
And so, with this night behind me, another milestone without Eva has passed. A Christmas Tea without my daughter and without the anticipation of having her come to The Christmas Tea with me when she is 14. Good bye dreams of my daughter. Good bye hopes of seeing you grow into a young woman.