Friday, May 27, 2005

So, did I pass?

I suppose it serves me right for feeling all happy - actually feeling uplifted and somehow blessed by what's happened to us.

Okay, let me start from the beginning. I'm driving to the grocery store listening to my very favourite Ben Folds song, The Luckiest. I've got it up loud and I'm singing along, marveling at how the words are making me feel. I'm actually feeling lucky, as crazy as that may sound. I play it twice. I'm driving and thinking that we've been so blessed by our little man, despite the fact that we don't have him with us. We've been blessed because he's changed us and so many other people for the better.

I'm telling you, I'm nearly having a spiritual epiphany in the car. I can almost hear the angels singing. It's not that I haven't been toying with this notion before, it's just that, I suppose, I never had the soundtrack to go with it.

Anyway, I get to the plaza and head into the drug store for a couple of mailing boxes. I decide not to wait in the post office line to pay and opt to go to the front of the store. I arrive seconds before a woman carrying a baby carrier. I resolve not to look in the carrier because all of a sudden I'm not feeling so lucky anymore. I'm trying to pay attention to the transaction, trying to buy my boxes. And then I hear the tiny mewling of a newborn. It's a newborn. I have to sneak a peek, all the while wondering whether or not the tiny sounds it's making are going to make my breasts start leaking again.

I jam my wallet into my purse. It sticks. It won't go in. I can't close my purse. She hands me the receipt and I jam that in too. I stuff it down by the wallet that's still sticking part way out of my purse and grab my boxes. I don't know if she was going to give me a bag for them or not, but I take them and leave as fast as I can. As I'm heading out the door I hear the conversation between the clerk and the new mommy trailing away... "Oooh, it's a newborn! Is it a he or a she? How old is she?"

It's a little girl and she's three weeks old.

As I walk to the grocery store I try to figure out what I was doing three weeks after Thomas was born. We buried him a week and a day after he was born, so two weeks after that was March 31st. I don't know what I was doing other than beginning the long, slow healing process.

So I'm now no longer feeling particularly lucky, but at least I've escaped. I'm outside and there are no baby carriers in sight. I get my cart and head into the grocery store. There smack dab in front of me is a pregnant woman, her gray t-shirt stretched tight by the tiny little person inside of her. I turn to the right. I'm buying vegetables. We need collard greens and potatoes. I'm just here getting my vegetables.

I lose sight of the pregnant woman and there are still no baby carriers in sight. This is starting to feel like the running of the gauntlet. I make it all the way around the store and actually start to forget, getting absorbed in my list. Allspice, corn syrup, smoked almonds.

I head to the checkout. It's all clear. Not only are there no babies or pregnant women, there are no line ups. Fate is smiling on me once again. I settle into lane 8 and instantly remember I've forgotten to get my fish. The fish monger wasn't at the counter when I stopped there the first time so I'd decided to do the rest of my shopping and come back at the end. I head over. It takes forever. The woman in front of me wants 12 cooked shrimp. They're on sale, $1.76 per dozen. They ring up at $2.88 per dozen. Her total is $2.08. Apparently the 32 cents difference is going to bankrupt her because she complains, albeit politely. The somewhat elderly fishmonger is confused. And slow. It takes forever and a line has started to form. He eventually overrides the till and we're all set. I get my salmon and head back to the checkout.

There's the shortest line. Yes, there it is...the one with the baby carrier. Reluctantly I pull up behind it. I can't take my eyes of this tiny boy who, I think, is about the age Thomas would be if here were alive. So that's what he'd look like. That's what he'd be doing. That's what he'd be wearing. Damn the shrimp woman to hell! I'd have beaten this baby carrier to the lane if she hadn't quibbled over 32 cents.

At this point I'm beginning to wonder if I'm being tested, if someone's trying to find out just how sincere I was when I started thinking, "We're actually lucky. We've been blessed." I'm realizing I'm only able to think that way when I'm not confronted by painful visible reminders of what we've lost. I can easily think it when I'm driving in the car listening to one of my favourite songs, but it's not so easy when I'm just a few feet away from someone else's newborn daughter.

So I don't know if I passed the test or not, but I do know I nearly leaped across the counter and kissed the clerk when he called me "miss" instead of "ma'am" because in addition to that, he opened up the lane beside the one with the baby carrier, sparing me another 3 minutes of agony.

It wasn't much consolation, but it was some. And I think that's all I can ask for these days.

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