Golden Girl

December 10, 2008

My elder cousin, who shall be referred to as Ora from now on, has always been the golden girl of the family, haloed with beauty and success, popular and the life of the party.  She currently makes good money at a good job, and owns a nice house as well as a vacation place south of the border.  And, of course, she has a sweet and funny little baby girl.  This doesn’t surprise me a bit; she has always been the thin, pretty, talented one who was oohed and aahed over by my grandparents and aunts.  If I (or Mom) were around, they would add something like, “But Erica is very smart,” to be kind.  My family was close, and how they thought about me mattered, probably mattered too much.  So there I was for years and years – smart and always second-best.

Which is why part of what happened at my brother’s wedding is a bit of a miracle, and I don’t use that word lightly, especially now.

We spent roughly three days in a hotel with my family, with Ora, her inebriated husband, and their baby daughter.  For quite a bit of the time, it felt to N and I as though we were having our noses rubbed in everything that we’d lost, and I felt very Scrooge-like about it, to boot.  There’s a particular kind of pain I never knew existed until I watched my dad play peek-a-boo with Ora’s daughter and was hit again with the realization that he’ll never get to do that with Teddy, that I’ll never be able to watch Teddy getting the same kind of family love and attention that was showered (and rightfully showered) on this little girl.

Ora’s husband, as I mentioned in my last post, seemed to think that I needed to spend time with their daughter.  I was never asked if I wanted to hold her, never asked if it was okay that the stroller with the sleeping baby in it was parked next to my seat at lunch or breakfast.  As someone who hates confrontation, I can understand the desire to avoid upsetting topics, and assume that this, along with his constant state of intoxication, is why I was never consulted about how I could best interact with this little baby so recently after our loss.

But, also as I’ve previously mentioned, Ora’s husband was amazingly insensitive throughout the trip, and I frequently wanted to say things that would have upset the family peace.  I especially wanted to say these things after he handed his baby into my lap at the rehearsal dinner, without asking, causing my poor mom to burst into sobs over at the bride and groom’s table.

All this time, while watching Ora with her husband and little girl, I couldn’t help comparing them to my own little family, to me and N, and to our beautiful lost Teddy.  And while it seems that this comparison should have come out entirely in their favor, it didn’t, not at all.  N, my good, strong, kind N, was next to me that entire weekend, holding my hand, kissing my cheek, letting me know in a hundred ways that I am well-loved.  We shielded each other when we could, and when we couldn’t, we just clung together.  All of my bragging about being a superwoman rock star at the wedding is only possible because he was there with me.

When Mom started crying at the rehearsal dinner, N alerted me so I could assure her that I was okay, and then he took her for a little walk so that she could recover.  This is the kind of thing he does, the kind of excellent man that he is.  Now, even reeling from grief and sadness, I can look at N and how well he loves me, and at how much I love him, and at how we love our boy, and then I look at my beautiful, well-off cousin with her husband and her lovely third child, and (here’s the miraculous part) I feel like the golden girl for once.  Me, with my dead baby, student loans, credit card debt, crying jags, and this really annoying post-baby weight that seems to have decided to stay a while.



  1. I think you found your home with N.

    No need to compete with her. If she is even happy. I can’t picture myself dropping my baby off with others like that – I’d want to play with her instead of getting drunk or assuring that family that I have it all.

    Your hubby sounds awesome, like a keeper!

  2. I love this… absolutely love it. Keep seeing the blessings. They’re there too. I often think that while I may not have my Tikva in my arms, no one else got to have Tikva… how lucky am I? Doesn’t mean the tears don’t still come every day, and yes, I feel envy probably every day too. But still, no one got to have Tikva but me, but us…

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