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Update on Losing Friends

alec vanderboom

I'm still collecting interesting comments on my "Losing Friends" post. Here's an update.

Thank you for your kind comments and prayers. Since that time I've spoken to all the "lost friends" in person. I've had a calm and peaceful heart during each of those interactions. Since y'all know my normal fiery St. Jerome like temper-- that was one more example of God carrying me over a rough patch.

Some of my old friendships have changed dramatically--but each one for the best. (I'm probably the most clueless Catholic Mama in the Northern Hemisphere, but just in case there is another "Abigail" in the NICU please remember this following story. Be gentle with yourself!)

I had really intense feelings about the "abandonment" I felt by Tessy's intended Godparents during her NICU stay. I'd either sob hysterically after each interaction ended or tell Jon that I felt like punching someone in the nose. I thought that my feelings weren't "normal" and weren't Christian.

I was ashamed of feeling that way. I asked people to please pray for what I assumed were "Devil attacks" that were trying to pit me against Tessy's Godmother. I felt like obviously Tessy's Mom and her future Godmother should be on the same page at all times during her health crisis. I brought up this sin against charity at every confession.

Six weeks after Tess was home safe and sound from the NICU, Jon and I made the final decision not to have any additional baptism services in the Church. (It took so long because I'd agree with my husband that Baby Tessy's emergency baptism was perfect just the way God planned. Then fifteen minutes later, I'd see the new, never worn baptismal garment intended for Tess hanging in our closet and burst into tears.) As a part of that process, we also decided to let the "temporary" godparent arrangement of Sister Kathy stand.

Once we finished the awkward task of uninviting the couple we originally intended to be Tessy's Godparents, every single trace of ill-will immediately left my soul. It was so dramatic. It felt like someone switched on a light switch to my heart.

Suddenly everything was totally fine. I felt "not everyone has the ability to handle an emotional visit to the sick" or "its understandable that people didn't want to bond with Tess until they were sure that she'd make it." Once we acted to protect Tessy's future spiritual well-being, all my anger and disappointment against the prospective Godparents left. Forgiveness came much more easily to me.

I'm sharing this humiliating story because I think one of the graces of the NICU is that it's an intense hothouse that brings a lot of uncomfortable and hidden feelings to the surface. Things that might have taken me 3 years to process, suddenly became super clear in a matter of three weeks.

The intensity of the NICU burnt out some friendships in my life. I've "lost friends" no question.

But now, three months later I'm not crushed. I'm not still hurting.

I think of the NICU as a sort of forest fire that ravaged through my family. All the underbrush of superficiality and fakeness got burned away. The true friendships still stand like Lebanese ceders in my life. They are tall and luminuous.

Then in the clearing -- there are all of these new saplings that start growing in the cleared soil. New friends, who are founded in a more pure soil of mutual faith and greater honesty.

And Baby Tess is home! And her smile makes me love the world again.

I guess my take-away lesson is that every single one of us will suffer bone-crushing loneliness during the great trials of our life. It's human nature to flee from sad situations. That happens so that we can relearn that God alone is our friend. And He will send us friends-- not a new visitor for every single lonely night in the NICU, but enough visitors so that we don't feel like total freaks while we stand vigil next to our sick baby's crib side.

Everyone will always get some shepards to come and adore their little newborn--Even in the NICU. Every baby has Wisemen who bring her presents and love from afar.

Thank you all for praying for me and Baby Tess.