I wrote this post long before we learned of Robin Williams’ suicide. It has nothing to do with him, yet it’s somehow relevant because as I watched social media explode with both shocking sadness over his death and joyous tributes to his life, I experienced – once again – the power of the shared experience and our limitless capacity to help one another make sense of joy and tragedy.
In one day, I heard from one friend who had emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy and saw photos of another friend’s gender reveal cake on Facebook. (It’s a girl!) A few years ago, I experienced a similar onslaught of contrary news when one friend lost her young daughter to brain cancer on the same day as another friend gave birth to healthy baby girl.
Even further back, I remember the day my sister called to tell me she was pregnant with her second child. At the time, I was in the middle of weekly chemotherapy injections following my molar pregnancy. It’s hard to encapsulate the simultaneous feelings of joy, sorrow, hope, and despair I felt during that conversation, but I also know her good news was as difficult for her to share as it was for me to hear.
It’s frightening to think about the infinite beginnings, middles, and endings that are possible in motherhood (and in life), especially when the farthest ends of the good and bad news spectrum collide so often. I have nothing clever to say about any it, except that all of it reaffirms my belief in the power of the shared experience and our limitless capacity to help one another endure the heartbreaks, revel in the miracles, and carry the weight of it all in between.