It is funny how life works sometimes. It is true that certain people come into our lives for a reason. I have experienced this blessing countless times over, and I so enjoy taking in the vast amazement of it. Diane is one of these people, who has become a close friend and confidant.
When I moved to Pittsburgh the second time, there were some strange coincidences of shared commonalities between me and A~ and another couple that was moving into the neighborhood a few houses down the street. We built similar style homes and moved within a month of each other. The guys were both starting work at the same hospital, in the same department and with the same position. Diane and I shared backgrounds in teaching elementary school.
We started to hang out and got along pretty well. I really enjoyed Diane and G~'s sense of humor, genuine spirit and warmth that adds to the sense of community in a neighborhood. Diane and I would trade tips on yard work and house projects and quickly became the go-to people if others had questions about new house things. When you build a new home, there are "fun" things like inspections to get the builders to come fix the stuff they forgot to do the first time. Diane and I were both meticulously organized and masterful in accumulating resources and lists of numbers of helpful people to call to get our requests done correctly and promptly.
Then as the neighborhood became more established, it was time to elect a board for the home owner's association. It seemed like the general consensus around the neighborhood was to be chill and let everyone just enjoy having their new home and yard and do what they liked with them. So to help keep it that way, Diane ran to be elected to the board and I was asked to be on the architectual control committee. Our platform was to be as anti-HOA as possible...in that if you have to go through the process of getting something approved, our answer was yes. Sometimes it was difficult to stay within the rules, but we helped home owners find the holes and exeptions to get their requests approved while following the set by-laws and guidelines. Diane and I even distributed a survey about the rules around fences, which was a hot debate. It turned out most people wanted there to be fewer restrictions. So, we wrote up an addendum and sent out ballots for a vote. When there were not enough votes to represent a majority (one way or the other on the issue), we went door to door to get the rest of the ballots. In the end, the fence by-law was changed to reach a compromise. Woohoo! Local politics and do-gooders at its finest!
The point is that Diane and I bonded. We talked shop about teacher stuff, shared stories and watched Pens games. We consulted each other about the latest and greatest at Lowes, Home Depot and Target. We went for walks and chatted with neighbors. As we are both people who tend to stay up late, we could see the lights on in each other's houses and would send emails back and forth. And there was my garage door...there were times that I would get a call from Diane telling me that my garage door was open around ten or eleven at night. Or I would be at the store and forget if I closed the garage door on my way out, and I would call Diane to check. From her home office with a laugh, "Yep, Jamie. You're good." I never had a garage door opener and for some reason it would just slip my mind!
Then in the spring, A~ and G~ had a conference in Las Vegas. Diane and I joined them and turned it into a bit of a vacation. It was a great time to get away to get a dose of warm weather, sunshine and pool time. Good food, fun and time to relax...time to get away...to escape the dark side of what I had been silently carrying with me for over a year.
One day in the middle of lunch with just the two of us, Diane stopped. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but Diane brought up the topic of children. I forget if she asked me or if she disclosed first. But as it turned out, G~ and Diane had been trying to conceive for years with no success. She asked me if A~ and I had been trying and if we were having similar difficulty. Tears filled my eyes, both in great sadness and relief. I was sad for myself in facing the harsh, stark truth of not being able to conceive a child so out in the open. I felt so vulnerable and ashamed. But I felt even more sad for Diane because what I had experienced was no where near the emotional pain that she and G~ had already been through. I felt relief on a certain level in that the truth was finally out, and that I was not alone. Suddenly, I felt like I could breathe again.
Before this very moment, it was a silent pain that only A~ and I knew. We told no one. We didn't tell our parents, our family or our closest friends. To the exponentially, increasingly asked question, "When are you going to have kids?," our response was an avoidant, steeped in an awkwardly masked sadness, "Someday."
Diane's disclosure of her history of infertility was honorable, sensitive and kind. She said that it seemed that when you have experienced it, it is like you develop a kind of radar for it. It is not something that is openly talked about, but somehow you know. Diane and I talked at length that day, both in her sharing her story and me sharing mine. Diane told me about Babycenter.com, or the BBC, with its on-line community of women who are mothers, who will be mothers or who are trying to be mothers. She told me how you can go on the board and find different groups to find the support you need. There were other women who told their stories, asked questions and offered support. Diane said she became friends with many of these women, exchanged emails and stayed in contact with them through the years.
It was because of Diane that I learned about the BBC. Once I was brave enough to go on-line with the website, I was lucky enough to find a network of caring, loving, supportive women. I met a remarkable group of ladies who have helped me immensely through my journey with infertility, divorce and rebuilding of my life. And Diane has been that same support IRL, which takes on a powerful connection of its own. However, I have since met many of the ladies from the BBC in real life, too. There will always be something special about the relationships that I have with the BBC ladies, but there is also this shift that makes it that much more real when I've met them in person. And so I hope that one day all of the BBC ladies can meet each other. :)
But my story does not end here.
Diane continues to be a source of inspiration, strength and true friendship.
I'll tell more in the second part...