I wrote this story to describe how difficult it is for those who have lost a baby to see other healthy babies being born.

The Circus

by Mindy Wilsford

Copyright © 2003 Mindy Wilsford

The class had just gotten the news: they were going to the circus! Most had never been to the circus, but a few had, and they told the others what it was like and how much fun it would be. Each day they learned something new about the circus: studying the animals they would see, reading about the entertainment, and discussing the food. They learned the history of the circus and watched a video that one of their classmates had taken when he was there last year. Soon it was all everyone was talking about. Day by day the excitement grew as the date approached.

Then, a week before the big day, one of the students was informed he wouldn’t be able to attend. No reason; he had done nothing wrong; he just couldn’t go. And even though he pleaded and cried, the teacher would not relent. The student was stunned and crushed. “How could this be? Surely there must be a mistake. I’m supposed to go, too.” But it was not to be. He would not be going to the circus.

The other students in the class felt bad for him and commiserated for a while. But soon they tired of it and went back to excitedly discussing the upcoming circus. “After all,” they thought, “it’s sad that he can’t go, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Besides, he can always go next time.” Unsure of how to act, he tried to keep a brave face and pretend that he was OK. He listened to them talk about the circus and even joined in sometimes, sharing about what he had learned. But sometimes he couldn’t do it anymore, and he had to leave to hide the tears that were welling up in his eyes.

And when the day of the circus arrived, he was totally lost. “Should I pretend I don’t care? Should I go and wish them well? Should I just stay home and cry?” His mother told him he needed to be a big boy and be happy for everyone else who was getting to go. So he joined the class, reluctantly, wishing he were anywhere else but there. And he did his best not to ruin anyone else’s fun. It was very obvious that he was not enjoying anything about the day, but everyone else, preoccupied with the excitement of the event, didn’t notice it. Most were simply so exuberant that they just chattered on and on about it.

When they got to the gate, as everyone jostled for position to get in, he quietly stepped aside. And after they went in, their laughter echoed in his head as he fought that sad, sick feeling. It just wasn’t fair! All he could do was watch them, listen to them, and hear from them. HE should be at the circus, too. That was the loneliest day of his life.

When the day was over, he stood there, forcing a smile, feigning interest, as they told about the day’s events and showed him pictures. They were so excited and eager to tell about their day, and all he could think about was how hard it was to not be a part of it. He deserved to go as much as they did; how it hurt to not be able to! But somehow they didn’t seem to understand that, as they continued to talk about the circus and show their souvenirs. He felt like such an outsider; he wanted so badly to share in their joy, but he just couldn’t. It was still too hard. Someday he would be able to, but not yet. And he looked forward to that time because no one would be happier about it than him.

I’m so sorry we didn’t get to go to the circus.

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