And yet another thing to rain all over my Christmas spirit.
This morning, first thing upon waking, I reached over and grabbed my phone to check email. I don’t normally do this, but I was checking for a work related email.
The very first email at the top of my inbox was from Karel. Karel is my “rebound” ex in Prague who is Czech. Kaja. He and I did not break up on good terms and, in fact, I left Prague, screaming, in part because of him. Or rather, he was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So my heart seized when I saw his name. I thought, “What the fuck is he emailing me for?” The subject line was “Vera.” I thought, “Why would he email me about Vera?” and there was a thought in the way back of my mind that I tried desperately to ignore. But I think I knew.
Vera is a friend, a pretty good friend though I often feel badly for not being as good a friend to her as she is to me. She’s Czech, and one of the people who helped me hold myself together when I was going through the worst times of my life. I always admired her openness, her loyalty and her unshakable good spirit. She never gossiped and she’d go out of her way to do things for friends.
The one thing she wanted most was to be a mother. She was in a relationship with someone that I never liked all that much & who wasn’t all that into the idea of helping her have a child. She tried for about 5 years, eventually resorting to IVF, twice. Neither time worked. She and this guy broke up, to my relief, and she eventually got into a relationship with someone who sounded nice & normal, and good for her and who wanted a family. She finally got pregnant and was due this February 5. The baby was a girl and she’d told me they were going to name her Stela, with the middle name of Amy, after her friend (from Philadelphia) who died of cancer this past year.
She and I emailed back and forth a couple times a month, talking about pregnancy and babies. She’d ordered some things from the States and had them sent here – baby clothes, a bolt of bright green fabric to reupholster a chair that would be her “breastfeeding chair”, the Yogi teas she loved, some books. I had just sent these things to her, and included a beautiful little handmade sweater from Ricicli, sized 12 months, for her daughter.
I continually asked her for pictures of herself pregnant, but she didn’t have any. Their camera had broken and they were saving to get a new one.
She was glowing and excited and feeling great about life. I asked her about more babies and she said they wanted to have another as soon as possible, after this one. I kept telling her that I wanted to get back to Prague to visit and hoped it would be sooner than later. She thought they might get a chance to come out here to visit, after the baby was born.
Anyway. The email.
how are you?
I have very bad news for you. Vera died. The reason was embolism. I don´t know whether you were in contact and you know about her pregnancy but her baby has been saved and lives.
I know you were friends, remember her.
I’m still reeling from the news. The saddest thing is thinking of that baby girl, who her mother has waited for all her life. Vera was going to be an amazing mother, we all saw this. She adored children & was wonderful with others’ babies. Babies that were crying and couldn’t be soothed by anyone else would always be calm in her arms. Stela, if that’s the name they ultimately went with, will never get a chance to know her mom who was one of the most unique & vibrant people I know. She drove me mad, sometimes, with all her energy and chatter. But at the end of the day, I appreciated her outgoing nature, her selfless friendship and her creativity.
I don’t have many details and I’m trying to track down her boyfriend’s last name. I only know his first name and, in the Czech Republic, you can’t send a package only to “Tomaš” and trust that it will get to him. All packages need to be picked up at the post office and the Czech postal system is a thorn in the sides of native Czechs and expats, alike. I don’t know how long ago it happened, but I wasn’t/can’t be there for the funeral service, and that sucks. I will try my best to remember this, and to continue to keep up with her daughter & send gifts & cards throughout her life. I hope, in this moment, that I stick to this.
It’s a scary thing, to know that someone’s life can end in the blink of an eye. It’s tragic. It’s cruel. I ask that no one please mention “God” or “God’s will” to me right now because I think that’s a crock of shit. Vera was a good person who never spoke ill of anyone. If you want me to believe that God has something to do with this, then I could only ever come to believe that God is a prick. I’ve never been a firm believer and this is part of why. The cold, hard, truth is that there IS no rhyme or reason, only shitty things that happen and there’s very little we can do to comfort ourselves over losing friends, about children losing parents, about children never even being able to meet their mothers.
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