Thursday, July 07, 2005

The big pink elephant

I composed myself enough to attend the weekly "ladies lunch" here at my office. We had been, prior to my medical leave, each bringing in a dish to pass on a given day each week and enjoying some good female bonding conversation (gossip). Today's lunch was to be a dual purpose lunch to be a shower of sorts for my pregnant coworker. But since she delivered her as yet unnamed baby boy a couple of weeks early, we just had a single purpose lunch today. We mainly talked about family...sharing stories about husbands and boyfriends and kids. It was nice. It was a little awkward for me. But it was nice.

At one point in the conversation, an incredibly young and wonderfully naive co-worker made some reference to how her twenty-some years had passed so quickly, imagine how fast the rest of her life will go. Start the awkward silence and furtive glances my direction...followed by a smattering of nervous laughter.

Was I supposed to fall apart? start crying? make some comment?

Don't think it didn't enter my mind to say, "Sweetheart, you aren't guaranteed ANY tomorrows." But I'm not a pessimist by nature, and I didn't want to cast a cloud of gloom over a relatively nice lunch. Besides, everyone was obviously already thinking it really wasn't necessary to say it out loud.

The one thing I've found most tiring about this whole grieving thing is the NOT talking about the big pink elephant in the room. But I don't know how to start the conversation. Do I just say, "My baby boy had a hemmorrhage in his brain and that's why he died?" Do I issue a memo? Do I make the pessimistic comment when the opportunity arises and hope that it leads to a full conversation? I mean, there is no real way to segue into the topic I know most people want to have but are too polite to ask about.

Or maybe I presume too much. Maybe they just don't want to know and that's why they haven't asked.

Either way, the pink elephant is taking up space everywhere I go and I would LOVE to find a way to get rid of it...if only for my own sense of relief.


Holley said...

I'm all for the blunt approach. Ex: "BTW we found out what caused Alex's death."

And don't be too hard on yourself if you can't get through it without crying.

lauralu said...

the first time i felt hugely awkward about avoiding the topic of hans, david hansen advised me not to avoid it. it works for me. i sometimes tear up at work or in the checkout line or wherever, but it relieves a tremendous amount of weight to just talk about him and not tiptoe around him.

Julie said...

It is easier most of the time to just say what you need to say about Alex and not have to face the guilt of not saying it. But NOT always. The trick is to figure out which time is which. It does get old pretending that life is just peachy and your heart isn't torn into shreds. You will get this figured out. I hate that you have to even try. People WILL understand if you cry though, and if they don't, then they dont deserve to be around you. And it really is easier in the long run just to talk about Alex. The akwardness wont last as long as the guilt will if you DONT mention him.(((Cathy)))