In Which I Apologize To That Nice Couple In The Grocery Store

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.

15 Comments on “In Which I Apologize To That Nice Couple In The Grocery Store”

  1. Oh, Mercedes. I don’t know how you carry it. I don’t think you should be so hard on yourself. It’s not as though you hurt anyone. <3 I wish I could give you a big mama hug right now.

  2. I just want to say that I understand. (and I’m completely choked up and crying). Sometimes it’s nice to escape into a fantasy realm to forget what pains us the most. And my understanding comes from having lost my only pregnancy and years of dealing with the questions “so how come you don’t have kids?”

    After fourteen years, some days the ache is small and almost unnoticeable, but other days it can still bring me to my knees. And yes, the holidays are tougher to get through.

    If you ever need an ear, I’m around.

  3. *hugs* I can’t even imagine how you feel from day to day. I just want to tell you that you are an amazing woman, and an inspiration to me in so many ways. You will always have a place in my heart. <3

  4. Thank you guys so much! I was absolutely terrified to write this, because it shows me at my worst. Thank you for being so kind and understanding. I don’t want people to think that I’m absolutely crazy! I swear I’m not.

    I love you guys, you know that?

  5. Sadie my dear don’t know how it is to lose a child but I do know the lose of someone way to soon. I think what you are experiencing is very normal, although they aren’t with you they are still very much alive within itty bit and in your heart. I have spoken with a lot of people over the past few months and they say it doesn’t get easier, you just learn to deal with it better. Love ya Sadie and if you need someone call, stop by, hop a carpet and fly. I’m here for ya.

  6. Huge hugs sweet friend. I get this. I can see those little girls alive inside your heart and pain. Life is filled with our sorrow, because our pain is relevant to the love we feel. Of course you spoke as if your little ones were alive, they always have been where they’re tucked inside your heart – the warmest, loving place to be. I wish I could be there to just hold you for a while, so you could just let go until you could breathe again. Sending love and comfort to you in spirit. (Hugs) Indigo

  7. It sounds to me like that couple was exactly where they were supposed to be exactly when you needed them to be there. I’d bet if they knew the amazing gift they gave you, they’d be happy they could give you those moments that you so dearly needed (and they couldn’t have done that if you had told them anything different).

    Hugs to you & yours…and blessings to that lovely couple too.

  8. Mercedes, it is hard, especially when there are anniversaries and holidays. I am sure that the grief does eventually go away. I say I am sure that it eventually goes away because after 32 years it is still here. It has dulled and faded but it is still here. I lost twins in the summer of 1980. They were not carried to term but I still remember every detail. It was long, drawn out and painful (spiritually, emotionally and physically). I don’t usually talk about it. My birth family doesn’t even know about the twins.

    29 years after I lost the twins I lost my granddaughter. I really don’t know if that wound will ever heal. It hurts so much. There is a lot of baggage tied up with her birth and death — a lot of pain. It is a deep seated wound.

    I understand the pain. I understand wanting to pretend for just a few minutes that the babies are still with us on this plane. It really does provide a few moments of succor. Don’t beat yourself up for allowing the other two triplets to be romping about in this dimension. Sometimes we find ourselves in these uncomfortable and awkward situations. It just happens.

    I pray for you daily (well actually many times a day). I will add a prayer that you will allow forgiveness to come forth for yourself. You would forgive someone else for saying what you said. Please forgive yourself sweetest one.

    Sending much love and biggest hugs,


  9. Shannon sent me over to read this….and now I cry.

    You’re in good company. I think all mothers who grieve are liars…every time we say “It’s okay”, when it’s really not. And we say it a lot.

    My recent challenge is my 8-year-old. Any time someone asks how many kids we have, my enough-time-has-passed-that-I-can-say-this-without-feeling-guilty response is “Four”. But Ryan never lets that slide. He always follows up with “Well, we actually have 5, but one is in Heaven”….which inevitably results in that crestfallen look we grieving mothers always get when our angels are mentioned, and the “Oh, I’m so sorry…that’s so sad”, which we follow-up with the lie “It’s okay”.

    I’ve also told the lie you told to the nice couple in the grocery store. It feels good at the moment….like scratching a mosquito bite. I forget, in the midst of my words, that the more I scratch, the more it will itch. A mother can’t help but dream for her child, even when that child isn’t here to fulfill that dream…and saying it all out loud can be so cathartic, while leaving us wishing all the more that it was real.

    Tonight, I ache for the lost dreams I have for my daughter….and the lost dreams you have for yours. We’ll see them fulfilled someday. And then we’ll no longer have lies to tell.

  10. If I were that couple and I knew the rest of the story, I would be so glad that you said what you did. You would never have been able to have those joyful moments, making your hearts’ desire a reality like that, with anyone who knows you. I would have been so glad to be those strangers, knowing that simply because I was a stranger, you were able vocalize your little girls back into your arms for even just a little while. Love to you, my friend.

  11. I SO understand! I haven’t found myself in this exact circumstance, but I can totally see how it could happen. Actually, I recently had a painful conversation with a woman at my workplace. She hadn’t been in for a long time and used to be a regular. When she saw me, practically her first words were, “Any little ones yet?” I said “No… not yet…” with a falsely chipper voice. I debated telling her that we’d miscarried at this point, but didn’t have the heart. She then went on to lament us not having kids yet and to ask when we would and to try and convince me that “We would be such great parents.” I nearly burst into tears when she left and excused myself to the basement storage room to “replenish supplies”.

  12. I am sorry you have the pain but glad you choose to share it when and where you can. There are many sending you words and thoughts of comfort. If life is suffering our role is offering each other comfort and understanding (as far as we are able to understand).

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