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.