It started as an innocuous conversation, as so many do. I was in my old stomping grounds, my hometown. I stopped by the bank where I used to work for a brief visit. I hadn’t worked there in 10 years, but the bank president and IT guy were there, both of whom I had known well.
It started out as complimentary. They both marveled at how little I had aged in 10 years. It turned to stories and reminiscing about over a decade ago and before, when I had worked there.
It was supposed to be a compliment. The bank president said, “I never found another employee like you.” I joked back “Well, there is only one of me.” Then he said “Well, you haven’t had a daughter yet. So it’s all on you.”
I completely froze.
What was I supposed to say? “I just scattered my daughter’s ashes this weekend and did the same thing 8 months ago with my other daughter”? Or “My daughter was stillborn”? I said nothing. I inhaled deeply. He will never know the searing effect of those words.
I told Ger about it, on our way to dinner to meet some customers of mine. I entertain customers so rarely in person. I wanted him to be aware of how much I had been affected by the comment, and that I was dragging him to dinner because I thought I needed the extra support.
On the way home, after dinner, he made a comment that hurt my feelings. I reminded him of our earlier discussion. How I had forewarned him, going into the evening, of how much I had been affected by the comment of my former boss. How I had been asking, however implicitly, for understanding.
I started to cry, and I couldn’t stop. It was one more thing, one more instance where I felt alone in grieving. Ger was not expecting me to be so impacted, but I was. The combination of the careless comments and the emotional weekend overwhelmed me.
I fell into fitful dreams. In one, I couldn’t find my younger son. I woke up in a panic until I realized they were both sleeping soundly in the room next to me.
My eyes are red and my tears are thick.