I ran into an old friend I haven't seen in at least a decade, if not more. We had kids close in age. We each had kids with health issues, but you know how it goes, you just push on, keep them healthy and happy and do whatever needs to be done. Live life the best you can.
We moved out of the area first and then they moved. So it was an unexpected surprise and pleasure to run into them.
We hug. We exchange pleasantries. So good to see you. You look great. How is everyone? Then she asks, "Is everyone healthy?"
And that tiny part of my heart that is still hiding, still whimpering, tucks farther away and I hear myself answer, "No, we lost Chase five years ago." Even as I say it, my mind is reeling. How can it be five years? It still hurts so bad.
She nods gravely. Her expression is different than the usual wince of sympathy. It's calm. "I'm sorry. I had no idea. It's not a club we wanted to be in."
It takes a few seconds for that to sink past the focus of trying to push it all down and keep my emotions from bubbling out "What?"
"We lost Spencer two years ago. Tumor in the brain. They gave him eight months. I'm sorry, I thought you knew. His wife was pregnant. He wanted to live long enough to see the baby born."
"Did he?" I ask with a little hesitation.
"Yes." She smiles and I look past her shoulder at her family, at her daughter-in-law, sitting behind her. And I understand her expression now. The calmness, the understanding. It's the difference of having gone down to all the depths of hurt and loss that would take lifetimes to express them all unless you've been through it. Funny how all that hurt can be conveyed in one look. That club no one wants to belong to.
I remember Spencer well. He was a light. A smart funny kind kid who took every obstacle by the horns and rode it through. I'm glad he had a child, that they have a little piece of him in another person.
Our exchange was brief. I was already tearing up, even though I knew I could get it under control in a few minutes. Even though there was so much I wanted to say, most of it wouldn't have gotten past the lump in my throat anyway. But there really wasn't anymore we needed to say anyway. We get it. We're members of the same club.