Uncomfortable Unknown

February 6, 2014

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I’m writing this at around 15,000 feet in the air. Flying to Austin for the weekend to attend the IF Gathering.

I always am anxious flying. Not so much the act (although turbulence is the devil), but the anticipation. I get nervous the night before trying to get everything organized, then getting enough sleep. I’ve never missed or been late for a flight, but that’s this big fear of mine.

Because the world would end. Obviously.

Today though as I waited, I felt profoundly sad. I wasn’t sure why, but everything reminded me of the boys. All three. Maybe it’s since I’ve flown Southwest pregnant with them. Both. And then again with them gone. Each time I board I’ve thought about how they should be strapped to me. Although in the twins case I probably just wouldn’t have gone anywhere for a while.

While waiting, I headed to the Starbucks inside and the woman at the counter said, “I know you! I used to work at the Target Starbucks and you’d come in!”

Imma let that sink in for a moment. I think I’ve reached platinum customer level for both companies right there.

Here’s what was incredible – she was the cashier that checked me out when I bought the pregnancy test that finally told me we were having Kaden.

She was also the barista in my last trip to Starbucks at Target before I had him. Both times she commented on my pregnancy (to-be) and was so excited for me. I never forgot her because her excitement cracked me up. She was invested from conception. 😉

I felt my panic level totally overtake me. I had absolutely no idea what to say to her if she asked if I had my baby. None. How do you tell a stranger surrounded by people in the middle of a Starbucks, “Oh, my baby died.” All I wanted was to turn around and run off. I didn’t want to see her face if I told her the truth. That awkward moment of, “Whoa – what do I say now?” And I didn’t want to hear myself maybe blow it off and say I had him, thanks for asking.

What do you say?

So I deflected to ordering, avoiding eye contact, and looking around. I’m sure I seemed incredibly rude and cold, but inside I was dying.

By the very mercy of God, somehow this was the one time she didn’t ask about anything personal. She just said, “Everything going good?” and I nodded and said, “Yes, thank you. It was so nice to see you.”

Then I darted out.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that half of this isn’t about what people say to me in these moments. It’s about what I have to tell you, and how I’m going to make you feel. Who thinks that the pregnant lady you watched waddle around Target for 8 months is going to tell you her baby lived 3 weeks and died from a heart defect? I still don’t think that about women I see. So why would anyone else? It’s not anyone’s fault or insensitivity. It’s life. Most babies live, that’s the expected norm.

If she’d have asked, I would have told her. I would have been honest and honored the short life of my son that she played a small role in. I wouldn’t have pretended he was home or I don’t know what she was talking about.

I’ve thought about going back to find her when I get home, tell her what happened briefly. Not that I would. I don’t know. Just – I have that urge to connect with someone in that way. Then I wonder if that’s just weird. No one wants to hear about this from a stranger. Right?

Maybe one day one of us that’s suffered a loss of any kind can figure out an easier way to muddle through all this.

9 Comments

  • Laura Lynn Green

    March 13, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    My heart breaks for each of my sweet friends who have endured the loss of their precious children. Reading this post, it made me think of each of you and how everyday, insignificant experiences can become monumental obstacles to face. I was so moved by the sorrow & pain, embarrassment and awkwardness of Diane's experience. I am praying for each of my friends today. Thinking of the tremendous loss and the vortex of pain in everyday life that you may be facing and others might not even be aware of. May the God of all mercy comfort you and bring His healing balm to your tender, broken hearts. ♥♥

  • Z

    February 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Diana, I know exactly what you mean. That could have been me at that Starbucks.

    One year and 5 months ago, I lost my son during labor at 42 weeks (asphyxiation for unknown reasons, possibly a kink in the umbilical cord). For months afterward I tried to avoid people who knew I’d been pregnant – neighbors, acquaintences, supermarket checkers…. I even switched gyms so as not to run the risk of someone asking me how it was going with the new baby, even though I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’d ever had a conversation with anyone at the gym!

    But eventually I learned a trick – someone suggested it, and my first reaction was “how lame”, but it worked! At home alone, I practiced saying out loud, “we lost him during labor.” Then I’d visualize saying this to people and watching their reaction. And I practiced follow-up responses. Do they want more details? “At 2 pm there was a heartbeat, but at midnight it was gone.” “Yes, a terrible shock. There’s nothing you can do.” Do they want to know how we’re doing? “We’re doing well all things considered.” “This experience has brought us even closer. It’s as if we’ve fallen in love with each other all over again.” Having a set of phrases ready helped me feel prepared for what people might say, and plus it helped me present my beloved son to the world (like any proud mama wants to!) without getting lost in teary reminiscing or “forcing” people to listen to more than they bargained for.

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing here – what you wrote really inspired me. (I feel a little bit like a post hijacker….)

  • Rusti

    February 11, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    nothing but love and hugs for you. xo

  • Emily P in DC

    February 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    This makes me think of the part in “An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination” where she wishes she had a business card with her story on it to hand out instead of having to explain things. I have had the same thoughts/feelings as you. In fact, I’m going to an organization-wide planning meeting for work in March and I’m already dreading the “please stand up and introduce yourself” moment because I’ll want to say I have three sons when I only tuck one of them in at night. Talk about an awkward way to introduce yourself to your colleagues.

  • Julie Marie

    February 8, 2014 at 1:06 am

    <3

  • Leigh Ann Steeber

    February 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Personally, I would be honored and blessed if you had it in your heart to come and share that piece of your heart with me. I am certain I would still be clumsy with my response, but my heart would be completely yours in that moment. God Bless you, Diana Stone. May God Bless you richly

  • Mary Templeton Lichlyter

    February 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    That urge is not weird. It's just difficult. I believe the woman DID ask you, as well as a stranger can. There are too many things in my life that I would prefer to slide around than talk about out loud one-on-one, so I do know the feeling! What words would you have said? How would you have phrased it? If you had told her, how do you think she might have reacted? Would she have recoiled, or would she have shugged it off in embarrassment, or would her heart have broken? Just things to think about some time.

  • Marcie

    February 7, 2014 at 9:56 am

    My heart ached as I read your entry. I pray you have courage and strength for as long as you need it.

  • elisha

    February 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

    My heart is hurting for you dear friend, I can’t imagination being in that position. But just know, connection with people is so valuable in our short lives here. Everyone wants to connect on more personal levels. I hope to one day meet you and give you a huge hug and tell you how much of an encouragement you have been in my life through your blog <3

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