It was a Friday evening eight years ago as I checked out at the Mexican restaurant we had frequented during my pregnancy (at least twice a week); the sweet young man asked me in broken English “Where’s the new baby?” It was so sweet of him to notice I wasn’t exactly pregnant anymore, even though I still looked like I was about 20 weeks. I was actually eight weeks postpartum from a twin pregnancy and had lost most of my weight, but still had the bump. I quickly said “Oh, with their father.” To which he replied, “Twins?! So blessed!”
While I am so blessed, I am also so broken.
To the waiter who sees my life in chance weekly encounters, dining out with my family, laughing, having fun, expecting a new baby, my life is beautifully filtered and perfectly hash-tagged. He doesn’t know my babies died an hour and a half after birth. He doesn’t know I buried my sons four years to the day after I buried my husband. He doesn’t know my husband went to work that morning and found the doors locked for good, with over a month of salary still owed to all of the employees.
I ran out so fast, trying to hide the tears as they welled up in my eyes. I wasn’t lying exactly; they were with their heavenly father. I never went back to that restaurant.
But it isn’t his fault, and it isn’t even my fault. Every one of us has his own cross to bear, and we can’t be translucent in the chance encounters we have daily with strangers, or in the 140 characters we fill on social media. And let’s be honest, no one wants to be bogged down with the gravity of life while they are working, running errands, grabbing dinner, and just trying to get through life one day at a time. We have our own baggage in our heads, filling the spaces in our thoughts. There is no way to add everyone’s troubles on top of our own on a daily basis.
Do you ever think about these things and wonder how authentically we are living our lives these days? I often feel just flat-out fake because I say I am OK to the mailman, but really I am struggling with missing my sons that day. And this is also what gets me through, helps me get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other every day. Because some days it is still hard.
What if on the hard days, I just went through the day wearing my cross for everyone else to see? Would the guy hand me a margarita at the restaurant while I waited for our carry-out? Because that would be more authentic, right? But then the loss would consume me, and I might be buried right in between my boys and my husband, and my precious daughters would be forced to pick up my cross and carry it with them the rest of their lives.
So I get up, get dressed, and put a smile on my face for my family. And you know what — my cross is lighter. When I push myself, God helps me carry it! My scars show everyone where I have been, everything I have survived. And so do yours. You may not have a visible scar, but you have the emotional scars, we all do, even the waiter at the Mexican restaurant.