Funny Haha and the Dead Anything Club

My dad had an expression. Actually, it was more of a clarification. Some things were funny. But were they "funny haha" or "funny funny?" That was the thing.

Me: The funniest thing happened to me at the store today.
Dad: Funny haha? Or funny funny?
Me: Funny haha.

Me: There's something funny about driving to work at 4 in the morning.
Dad: Funny haha? Or funny funny?
Me: Funny funny. Definitely. *groan*

And, once, when he was in the hospital talking to me about his cancer:

Dad: You know, it's funny how your perspective shifts when you realize that you've got something that is maybe eventually going to kill you.
Me: Funny haha? Or funny funny?
Dad: Yes. Both.

He wasn't wrong, was he?

Life can be a real kick in the dick.

And yet, it can usually be sorted into one of those categories. Here's an example for you. Sometimes, you're working a double restaurant shift and don't pay close enough attention and dump an entire cambro of tartar sauce into your shoes. Funny funny.

Other times, you keep making eye contact with a person in a store who looks familiar to you but who you know you've never met AND YET your body knows that you know them even if your brain doesn't. Funny funny.

And other times, you close the book on a miscarriage with your dog having bloody diarrhea in the middle of your kitchen floor. Yes.  Both.

I haven't really been ready to type that word for a few weeks. Miscarriage. To miscarry. To suck at carrying.

It's a bullshit word, let's be honest. Because it implies that you did something wrong. In football, if you're a receiver, you practice, well, receiving. I've watched interviews with wide receivers who talk about trying to catch grapes with two fingers or chopsticks in mid air from a distance to improve their coordination and reflexes. They literally practice catching and carrying an object because it is their job. And when they miscarry? Well, sometimes they lose.

But a uterus isn't a football field and I am not a wide receiver. And I miscarried.

Fuck that word. I didn't do anything wrong.

Here are the facts.

On Friday, July 12, I found out I was pregnant.

On Sunday, July 14, a week and some change before my daughter's second birthday, I made a tshirt and our daughter toddled into my husband's office wearing it to tell him and it was an awesome day.

On Thursday, July 18, I started bleeding heavily.

On Friday, July 19, still bleeding heavily, I went to the OB ER where, after 7 hours, a doctor told me that "either you're much less pregnant than you thought or you had a miscarriage."

If you know anything about Type A people, you know something about me, which means you know that there is no such thing as being "less pregnant than you thought you were."

I was fine. Since my dad/best friend got cancer and died, I've gotten exceptionally good at putting things in perspective.

At least he went quickly. Many people don't.
At least there is an election again in 4 years. 
At least you have the resources to pay for a colonoscopy.
At least you lost the baby at 5 weeks instead of 5 months. 

That's the thing, isn't it? That is NEVER the thing to say to a woman in grief but that's what we tell ourselves, isn't it? This sucks for me right now, but imagine how much more it would suck if I'd had an ultrasound and seen her. If I'd decorated her nursery. If I'd named her. Imagine how much MORE that would suck if I lost my baby then. 

And it wasn't a baby. Not yet, actually. The app told me it was the size of an apple seed. That it was starting the process of forming major organs. It didn't even have a spinal chord or beginnings of a brain yet. Just a neural tube. The books say it wasn't even a fetus yet. It was an embryo. Not a baby.

And yet....

I miscarried our baby.

But I didn't miscarry. I didn't drop the pass. I didn't miss the catch. I didn't run out of bounds. There is no amount of wheatgrass I could have downed or kegels I could have practiced or deep breaths I could have taken that could have prevented it. I couldn't practice. I couldn't drill. I didn't go on a bender or try scuba diving for the first time or run a marathon or lift an armoire or any other bullshit that they've proven doesn't cause a miscarriage.

I played with my daughter. I walked my dogs. I made dinner for a friend.

And yet....

 I was pregnant and then I wasn't. I was carrying our baby and then I wasn't.

My dad always used to talk about being a card-carrying member of the Dead Dad Club. (It was funny supposed to be funny.) It's the club that nobody wants to join but you don't really get a say in the end. Kind of like Mormonism.

That was funny haha in case you're keeping score.

Anyway, I always thought the idea of such a club was so sad. The idea of people meeting in church basement drinking bad coffee and eating stale donuts, sitting in a circle and talking about how long it had been since their worlds got turned upside down.

Hi, I'm Mike, and I joined in March of 2012. Does this shit ever get easier? 

Hello, Mike. No, it doesn't. It's gonna fucking suck forever. Buckle up. 

I used to think that was the most goddamn depressing joke he had ever made until my card came in the mail, until my dad died suddenly and without warning during a routine test. And then I knew it was the most goddamn depressing joke because it was the most true.

But the Dead Dad's Club doesn't look like I imagined. Don't get me wrong, it's fucking sad, but it doesn't look like an AA meeting. The Dead Dad Club looks like a security guard at a museum commenting on your "Life is good" tattoo, done in your dad's handwriting.

Security Guard: I love your tattoo, miss. Life is really good.
Me: Thanks. My dad used to say it. This is actually a copy of his handwriting. He wrote it at the top of his first entry in his cancer journal.
Security Guard: Is he...
Me: He died.
Security Guard: My dad died when I was 20.
Me: I see you.
Security Guard: Me too.

And then I went in and looked at an exhibit about Camp David and Lyndon Johnson. I'll probably never see that man again. But we had a club meeting. We took minutes. We took attendance. We were both there.

The Miscarriage Club doesn't look like an AA meeting either.

It looks like a text to two dear friends who experienced it, a conversation with two cousins who did, too. A conversation with an aunt who miscarried at 5 months. She's the perspective piece you keep trying to remember as your heart breaks over and over again. They probably had a nursery decorated. But you don't want her to be the perspective because she deserves more than that. Her grief deserves to stand on it's own without being the yard stick you hold yours up against.

More poignantly, the Miscarriage Club also looks like holding your cousin's baby tight, jumping in line ahead of the dozens of other relatives who want to hold him, because you fucking NEED to have a baby in your arms, even if it's just for a second. And then telling yourself that you can't cry because not everyone knows about it and you don't want to turn this birthday party into a sympathy event and you also don't know if you can handle all of your blood relatives coming up and telling you how sorry they are.

Because that's the thing. In the Dead Dad's Club, we don't tell each other how sorry we are. It doesn't do any fucking good. We say things like, "If you ever want to just scream at someone about how unfair it is, I am here for you." And, "If you ever want to go to lunch and talk about anything in the world but your dad because he's all you think about already, let me know. I'll drive. We'll get tator tots and beer and talk about Real Housewives and Canada." We hug, if we're among huggers.

My aunt hugged me this weekend when she found out and said, "It's so hard." My cousin hugged me when she found out and said, "Oh my god." My friends who are also Club members texted me every day and asked me how I was. And if I didn't respond, they didn't stop texting. They waited until the next day and reached out again.

Because when you're a member of the Dead Anything Club, you know that the only thing that feels more hollow than your own heart is someone telling you "I'm sorry."

It's not that they don't mean it. It's not that they don't mean well. Of course they do. But it doesn't fit. Just like miscarry implies that I did something wrong, "I'm sorry" implies that they did something wrong. Which they didn't

Sometimes life is just a kick in the dick.

On July 18-19, I miscarried. On July 20, my husband and I took my daughter to IKEA. Life goes on. It goes on with or without us, marching tirelessly onward. But I am tired. And yet I march on. I march on with another gray hair and another line beside my eyes and another membership card in my metaphorical heart wallet.

I march on because I survived. Losing my dad didn't kill me. Losing my embryo didn't kill me. Zaxby's in Bat Cave, North Carolina didn't kill me. I have funny haha and I have funny funny.

And perhaps the most important thing I learned from my dad - I have hope.


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