I lost my first pregnancy on July 4, 2010.
We were devastated.
I couldn’t wait to share the news initially, so, we didn’t – which then made it impossible to avoid dozens of painful conversations. Maybe being so open and inclusive of our pain did help us move through our grief, but at the time, it just felt like living in pain.
My father in-law was kind enough to let our neighbors know.
Tom and Gracie. Gracie had lived on the street longer than nearly anyone else, and she and Tom were thrilled when they saw Ken and me touring the cottage next to their colonial.
“It’s good to have little ones running around,” Tom said the first time we met him. Planning for babies long before Ken and I were.
Tom and Gracie were each other’s second marriage. Both proud members of the Greatest Generation, who were equally proud of their Irish heritage, service to America, there many (many) kids and grandkids, and this place on Pines Road that they were committed to call home together – despite the upheaval of their love.
I found out that they knew about our loss, one day when Tom came over as I was headed to my car. He didn’t say much. Just gave me a hug, told me it would be okay, and I was too exhausted not to believe him.
Months passed. Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving all came and went. And then, the first big snow.
I had been working from home, but Ken decided to battle the commute before the snow really got going, and now the driveway needed shoveling. I bundled up and started digging.
Not too many shovel loads in, Tom came out.
“Amanda, ah, are you supposed to be doing that?”
I smiled politely. “Tom, I’m fine. I don’t even know if…and anyway, there aren’t any restrictions.”
He nodded and put his hand on my shovel.
“That’s probably all good and true, but just the same, no shoveling. Not this winter. I’m sure you have plenty of work, and I’ve got plenty of time and a couple of these.” He proudly displayed a few nips of Jameson. “Now, go inside. Be warm. I’ll make sure Kenny has a clear spot.”
I didn’t argue. Truth was, while we hadn’t told Tom or anyone else, I was four weeks pregnant, and all that up and down of shoveling was making me dizzy.
Yesterday, after this year’s first real good heap of the white stuff, we got bundled up for a Goodwin Family shovel. The snow was light and fluffy, and it felt good being outside, together.
When our driveway was done, I looked next door. Thought about the winter I didn’t shovel and then looked back at Briggs.
Tom and Gracie sold just a few weeks before he was born. They hadn’t wanted to, but when they met Peter and Lynn and heard their plans for the backyard, and the deck, and that she was a master gardener…well, everyone was sold.
“Peter and Lynn, must be away,” I said to Briggs. “Their driveway is always done before ours and it hasn’t been touched at all.”
“Yeah, and I don’t hear the dogs,” he said.
“Do you think we should shovel them out, so they can pull in when they get home?”
“That’d be nice. I’ll get Dad.”
So, that’s what we did.
Because maybe it’s as simple as taking turns. Doing what you can, when you can.
Maybe that’s how we take care of each other.