My Beloved and I were at Costco today picking up 15 tons of toilet paper and a shed full of dishwashing liquid. You know, the usual.
I was shoving the massive, and slightly overloaded cart along the book aisle when I looked up and saw a girl I worked with years ago coming towards me. The last time I saw her I was about 5 months pregnant with Thomas. Like today, we ran into her while shopping and, having heard the news through my cousin who she still worked with at the time, she excitedly rushed over to ask me all about my pregnancy and to congratulate us.
I hadn't seen her since, until today. And it was a very, very different encounter indeed.
As I looked up, I saw her quickly look away - off to the side and down to a stack of books which allowed her to keep walking towards me without having to acknowledge me. I did the same. Our eyes met for just a fraction of a second but I know she saw me. With a strange, unspoken understanding we quietly passed each other by. There was too much to say and not enough courage or energy for either of us to utter a single word. I was as guilty as she was for not stopping to chat, but it made me sad just the same.
These little moments are the ones that remind me that I'm different. They're the moments that make me want to run outside and scream - throw a 36-year old tantrum that you wouldn't believe. Break things. Hit things. Cry.
But they're also the moments that help to remind me that there are a lot of people who don't care that I'm different, and who embrace the person I've become since Thomas died. They're the ones who are always there when I need them and who unflinchingly look me straight in the eye, no matter what.
I don't blame the girl who passed me by today. In fact, I'm sure I'd have done the very same thing if I was her. No one likes awkward moments and extending belated sympathies. Not this kind of sympathy, and especially not in the book aisle of Costco.
But to everyone who hasn't passed me by, thank you. I am where I am today because you've been brave enough to walk with me every step of the way.