My now-1-year-old had a number of complications and health issues and spent two months in the neonatal intensive care unit. While we were there, I met “Julie” and “Nick.” Their baby, “Gio,” was born six days after mine and had similar issues. They were both upbeat and friendly every time we spoke and seemed optimistic. I felt like we were becoming friends and kept meaning to give Julie my number so we could stay in touch. Then one morning I overheard the doctors talking about Gio, using phrases that made it clear he wasn’t going to make it. Julie and Nick continued to be cheerful, often saying how excited they were for us that our baby would be going home soon. I took this as a cue that they didn’t want to discuss their grief with me, so I left it alone. Gio died the day we took our baby home from the hospital. I never did give Julie my number. Recently, Facebook suggested Nick on “People You May Know.” It turns out we have several mutual friends. I have been considering messaging him to let him (and Julie) know that I think about them, and about Gio, often. The truth is that I think about them every single day. Is it inappropriate to reach out in this way? Will it come across as being cruel, when our babies were so similar but had such different outcomes?
—Reaching Out or Rubbing It In?