Friday, March 03, 2006

Polite jealousy

The lady that comes around daily to collect the trash is a very nice woman. She's probably my age (that'd be early 30's) and she always has a smile on her face, even when she's having a bad day. She's the kind of person who always puts you at ease.

Until your baby dies.

You see, she had a baby girl in late December 2004, almost three full months early. It was touch and go for a while and they didn't know if her daughter would survive. But she did. She suffers some developmental delays that are expected with preemies...she's actually three months younger than she is, ya know.

But she's alive.

I see it on her face every day when she smiles at me and asks for my bag of office trash. She could be me. That terrifies her and makes her joyous all at the same time. I'm her daily reminder how close we can come to disaster...and still come out with a happy ending. She's so glad she got that happy ending...and I'm glad for her.

She could be me.

But for my part, I can't ask about her daughter anymore. It just hurts too much. Because I think a very similar thought to what I know she's thinking...

I could be her.

So she smiles a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes (you know the kind...a smile with pity written all over it), takes my trash, and then quickly scurries on to the next office where she makes easy conversation with J about his new son...and then on down the hall to the lady who always asks, "So how's your daughter doing?"

I know she's glad she's not me.

But I wish I was her.


sillyhummingbird said...


I wish I had something comforting to say.

Jill said...

I've read this a few times over the course of the day and more than anything, I am just struck by the sheer beauty of your writing.

It is a stunningly poignant word painting, like a still life or something. It's so much more than a post on something that happened during the day. It's like, I can almost see you holding your hand up to a mirror that isn't solid glass but more like water. So, so beautiful Catherine :)

Lorem ipsum said...

Me too.

R said...

i love your writing, too. and i'm sorry.


kate said...

Me too. So poignant and true (((((hugs)))))

Lorem ipsum said...

There's a story in the San Francisco Chronicle today about stillbirth that actually dares to ask, 'When are we going to find out why it happens? And when will we start talking about it?' In case you're interested, here's the link.