I was proud of myself today when I needed groceries and actually resolved to make the trip to Target like a normal functioning adult. Grief is really good at making routine tasks, like going to the best store on the planet, feel like a root canal. So, I was proud of myself for bucking-up and getting myself to the grocery store.
I was standing in the deli line waiting to order some lunch meat. I banned all processed meat the moment I found out I was pregnant, so I figured hey, if I can't have my daughter, at least I can have some roast beef. The jovial man working the deli counter asked what he could get me, and I placed my order. "Only if you smile a little more. You need to smile. It's nice to smile, ya know." That's what he said to me. He told the grieving mother, the mother who lost her first baby 35 days ago, that she needed to smile.
OK, thanks. I'll keep that in mind. Smile more. Got it. I mean, come on! I've returned to work. I can go a few hours straight without breaking down. I only sob every other day or so. I actually laugh and make jokes sometimes. What else does this Target man want from me?! I'm trying to get back to living a "normal" life, but sometimes a smile is just asking a little too much. I so badly wanted to say to him, "You just have no idea the kind of pain I'm feeling right now. You have absolutely no idea." Instead, I let a few tears well up and stood patiently watching him whistle while he worked (literally).
As I stood there waiting, I couldn't help but wonder how many other people in Target at that moment wanted to tell someone "You just have no idea the kind of pain I'm feeling right now. You have absolutely no idea."
People are all around us, living life everyday with stories that we can't even begin to understand. Their stories are hidden deep within them. Pregnancy was a part of my story that everyone saw. My round belly and penguin-like waddle was like a badge of honor that I wore because I was in the Soon-to-Be Mama's Club. The My-Baby-Died Club doesn't have badge that other people can see. People don't know you're in that club. Its an invisible, deep, painful badge that only I know is there. Who else is shopping at Target right now wearing this awful badge?
The Target deli man doesn't know that I am a forever member of the world's worst club. All he can see are the bags under my eyes and the lack of a smile on my face. He meant well by telling me I should smile. And I agree with him that yes, it is nice to smile. But right now, Target man, a smile is just a little too much when I am carrying around this heavy badge for a club I wished I didn't even know existed.