Last Thursday, October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The day now holds deep meaning to us – it forever will. I’d intended to fully participate, but life interfered, and some hilarity ensued.
I shared said hilarity with another baby loss mom, and it brought some laughter, even in the midst of our grief. Thus I figured I’d share here – to benefit those grieving a loss, or those who just enjoy awkward stories. So here’s hoping this story brings you laughter, even if only for a moment.
I participated in the International Wave of Light (worldwide lighting of candles at 7:00pm) – just in my own way… At 7:00pm our time, Mark was on a plane, en route from a couple days on business in Minneapolis. Therefore, Mark couldn’t light a candle for me per usual – with his blowtorch (we’re a little unconventional around here).
I could’ve run to the grocery store to buy matches, but I didn’t. Because even if I’d purchased matches, I still wouldn’t have done it. Because here’s my confession – I’m scared if I light a match, it will burn my effing finger off.
So at 7:00pm on October 15, I sat up in bed, typing for my blog. I paused intermittently to peruse others’ Wave of Light photos on Instagram, and I texted with some other baby loss moms.
I thought, like I do each day, of all the babies gone too soon who now hold a special place in my heart – Matthew, Jack, Maddy, Garrett, Abby, Landon, Josie, Kate, Reid, Eliza, and many others, and I planned to light a candle when Mark returned.
I texted my new friend, JJ (Jack’s mommy) – I complained about my super crappy work day and how most my co-workers never acknowledged my loss. JJ described the awkward candle-lighting ceremony she’d attended. She asked if I’d lit a candle. I explained I hadn’t, because I was waiting for Mark to return home and use his blowtorch. So, I said, we’d pretend we lived in California and do it at 9:00pm.
Mark arrived home around 8:50pm. He sauntered into our bedroom with the mail and started complaining about how I never get the mail when he’s away. He’s right – I sometimes open the mailbox, but, if it’s full of shit, I just leave it in there. Mark greeted our dog, Howie, who was more than enthused to see him.
Then Mark trekked to and from our living room, retrieving our weekly accumulation of Amazon shipments (he’s a borderline shopaholic), dumping loads of packages onto our bedroom floor. He quickly tore into the packages and tried on a couple golf shirts he’d purchased to better show his new physique (he’s trimmed up as part of his grief journey).
I paid Mark no attention – I was still focused on my blog. But then, Mark ripped open a package, pulled out the contents, and asked, “Christine, what is THIS?!”
I looked up as Mark dangled a ginormous light purple bra in front of me. “I have no clue,” I answered, uninterested, as I returned to typing. I speculated some idiot mailed me a nursing bra or something.
Mark shoved the bra back into the package and exited our bedroom.
I chuckled to myself and texted JJ about the mysterious ginormous bra I’d just received. I told her my theory – some idiot mailed me a nursing bra. I figured she might laugh, and she’d sympathize with me about said idiot. “Idiots,” she responded.
“It doesn’t even remotely look like the right size,” I replied.
JJ texted back, “LOL, you should check the size.”
I agreed that might help me solve the mystery, so I jumped out of bed, picked up the package, reached in, and grabbed the bra so I could check the size. But I became distracted, because, stuck to the ginormous light purple bra was a pair of white underwear, which didn’t look to be my size either.
The underwear fell to the floor. I bent over to retrieve it and immediately noticed something was off. The underwear was a sheen material – the kind that normally has the cotton piece in the crotch. But, as I picked it up, I noticed the cotton piece was shredded or something. Like it was kind of gone, but it was still there too – just the material was hanging off in strings. I pondered…
Where is the crotch? Is the crotch really missing? Did Howie chew it? It’s been in the package – he wouldn’t have had time. Wait… Is this an old pair of underwear? Where are the tags? OMG – it isn’t new!!! What the hell?!
“Mark!!!” I yelled as I dropped the underwear, “OMG – there is underwear with the bra, and it’s used!!! WTF?! Ewwwww! OMG! OMG! OMG!”
“What?!” Mark asked, as he raced into our bedroom.
“It’s used!” I shouted, “There’s no crotch! It can’t be new!”
“What are you talking about?!” Mark asked.
Puzzled, Mark retrieved the package and studied it further. “Holy crap! It’s hers!” I sensed some repugnance in his tone.
“Whose?” I asked.
“Hers!” he gestured towards a neighbor’s house.
“Ughhhhh!!!” we exclaimed, in unison.
I’ll pause to explain we’re talking about the same neighbor I mentioned at the beginning of this post (I’ll just call her Frances). For purposes of this story, I’ll provide a factual physical description of her (not intended to be disparaging) – just so you can visualize.
Frances is maybe 60 years old, average height, with a heftier build. She’s pale (doesn’t spend much time outside), has short, curly red hair, and appears to suffer from female pattern baldness. Most the time her clothes (or pajamas?) are ill fitting and stained.
Frances is usually passive aggressive (i.e. drives on our lawn when she thinks we aren’t watching), but sometimes she borders on aggressive-aggressive – she once initiated physical contact with Mark (chest bumped him) as he was doing some yard work near our property line. Most who encounter her conclude she’s bat-shit crazy.
I texted JJ to update her on the situation – I informed her it’d taken a turn for the worse, and it was all her fault because she’d suggested I look at the bra size. I explained that, with the bra, I’d discovered a pair of crotchless underwear. We’d discovered these undergarments weren’t new – they were used, and possibly dirty, and they belonged to our neighbor – Frances!
JJ texted, “LOL, go wash your hands!”
“OMG – the return address is from a hotel!!!” Mark yelled, confirming these were indeed used garments, “Go wash your hands!”
I took the undergarments, shoved them back into the package, and ran to go wash my hands. I joked with Mark on the way to the bathroom, “What happened to the crotch? Did her cat chew it? Did her husband chew it? Did it just rot away?”
“Ewwwww!!!” he yelled, and we started laughing.
“What should we do?” I asked.
Mark explained he’d return the box to FedEx, so FedEx could redeliver the package of dirty underwear directly to Frances. Since we aren’t on speaking terms, we figured it’d be a horrible idea to go knock on Frances’ door holding her package of dirty underwear – opened.
Knowing Frances, she’d freak out and start screaming in her high-pitched tone. She’d attempt to chest bump Mark again. She’d accuse us of opening the package on purpose – she’d call us mean-spirited sickos and blame us for ruining her life, forgetting the last thing on Earth anyone wants to see is a pair of her dirty, crotchless underwear. But that Frances – she lacks critical thinking skills.
So, unfortunately, all this talk of how we’d return Frances her underwear derailed us. And we didn’t light our candle for Matthew and his friends until about 10:30pm. I asked Mark if this made us bad parents to Matthew.
“No, it’s seven o’clock somewhere,” Mark replied.
And I smiled, because that’s how we’d have parented Matthew Earth-side too. We’d never planned to be those parents who’d freak out if Matthew missed target bedtime by half an hour (we missed the Wave of Light by three and a half, but, small details…).
Routine is important to child development – but a few minutes here, an hour there – we always knew those things qualified as “small stuff” in life. To us, of utmost importance was always a healthy, happy boy, who knew he was so incredibly loved. After Matthew died, we’ve come to realize, even more, how true all this is – it’s all small stuff, not life or death. So, I smiled again, and I let go of my guilt.
On Friday, I regurgitated the events of Thursday night to those familiar with Frances (everyone), and we fantasized about all the prank possibilities.
Like we brainstormed we could go to a sex shop and buy some raunchy sex toy to include in the package before sealing it up and returning it to FedEx for redelivery. Frances, thinking the package came directly from the hotel, would call the hotel to investigate why the hell the staff shipped her underwear with a raunchy sex toy.
We’d never do it, but it was awesome to dream…
And we also wondered… What the hell kind of person is such a tightwad and so effing attached to her cheap, dirty pair of crotchless underwear she calls a hotel requesting said underwear be located and overnighted back to her? Answer – Frances.
That night, we noticed Frances wasn’t home, so we carefully resealed the package and placed it safely on her doorstep, just as FedEx would have done.
But this story is like the gift that keeps on giving, as far as laughter goes – people are still laughing. And right now, we’ll take it. And I’d like to think Matthew and Jack orchestrated this from above – to make their mommies and daddies smile.
I hesitated to post this story – Frances’ husband is some kind of astrophysicist, and he may or may not have some mad computer-hacking skills (a post for another day, perhaps), so he could find my blog. But, oh well… If this story brings laughter to even just a few sad ones, I’m okay with whatever wrath comes my way.