It all started because I didn’t want to freak them out. Which was a good intention, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
My littlest is a year and a half old. There should be three of them. They should all be a year and a half old. Most of the time, I look on the bright side. At least we have Itty Bit! What a joy she is! What a darling, yay!
But the cold truth sneaks up on me from time to time. Holidays that should be spent with the triplets, but not. Milestones that should be hit by three little girls, not just one. My doctors have upped my antidepressants. I struggle to get out of bed sometimes, but I do. I sleep with a tiny, tiny blanket under my pillow. That blanket doesn’t belong to anybody anymore.
This couple today, they were so nice. He was talking to Itty Bit and she was talking back. And I find myself blurting out, “She’s a triplet.” Which is what I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s on my mind all of the time. I can’t sleep at night. It’s become all-consuming.
And this nice, wonderful couple says, “Oh? Are they identical?”
And I don’t know what to say, because they’re so wonderful. When I say, “Oh, we lost two of them,” well. That really tends to wreck somebody’s day. People don’t know what to say and they don’t know how to speak to me after that. It’s incredibly uncomfortable. They’re all, “I’m sorry,” and I say, “It’s okay,” and you know what? It isn’t okay. But I can’t say what I’m really feeling, either, which is usually something along the lines of, “I wonder what they look like inside of the casket. I have nightmares. I know their souls are somewhere better but they really should be here with me, you know?”
So I said, “Yes. They’re identical.” A little white lie, which doesn’t hurt anybody, and keeps me from falling apart. Because I’m falling apart this week, my darling friends. It’s almost more than I can bear.
But this couple, they’re so wonderful. They’re telling me about their little girl, and her birthday, and asking what it’s like with three, and how do we tell them apart, and although my mind is saying, “Whoa, this isn’t true!” it seemed so much easier to keep talking. And it was a joy. I talk about the girls as if they’re alive, and we have three little ones, and I tell them what I always thought we’d do to tell them apart, and how we always figured we’d take care of them, and I mention the dreams that I have for them as if they were real, but they’re not.
And this couple, I like them. A lot. She reads horror. I’d totally want to hang around with them. I give them my card and send them to the magazine. And by this time I’m feeling horribly guilty.
I’m not a liar. I’m almost painfully honest. My intentions were good, but it was a weak moment and I didn’t do the right thing. I should have told the truth right away, as painful or awkward or uncomfortable as it was.
I saw them later in the store, and wanted to run up and say, “Hey, you know what? I wasn’t being truthful.” I very nearly did that, but I thought the only thing crazier than a nutty lady who talks about her kids is a nutty lady who talks about her dead kids like they’re still living. And nobody wants that much honesty, really.
But it wasn’t true, and even if it was a lie told with good intentions, and a sad amount of desperation to simply forget what is real for a second, a lie is a lie is a lie. Sheesh, I’m a Sunday School teacher, for crying out loud! I know better.
So I’m very sorry, wonderful couple at the grocery store who will probably never read this. I’m neither bonkers nor a liar (usually) and I’m sorry that I was untruthful with you. But thank you for being so kind and asking about my daughters. I grieve them every single day, and I thought it would get better much faster than this. But thank you for letting me think about them as darling little toddlers. Although I went about this the wrong way, you brought me much joy for that time. Thank you, and please forgive me.