Not That Sorry

I made a girl cry yesterday. I didn’t mean to, I honestly wasn’t thinking about how she might hear what I was saying. I talk about death so much now that I forget the rest of the world still tries desperately to ignore it as much as possible. It’s such a common topic in my household, I guess I’m a bit hardened. The girl is a coworker, she came to my desk to ask  about a friend who’s mother recently passed away. See? Death. It’s everywhere; inescapable. How did I avoid it for so long?

My friend’s mother had been ill for quite some time. While I was out on leave after losing Olivia, she had been rushed to the emergency room twice with breathing problems. She had a tracheotomy and was on a breathing machine. She was on bed rest and just grateful that her first grandbaby could sit in her lap – with help, of course. I don’t believe it was a shock when she finally quit breathing for good. It may have been a sort of relief. But my friend talked about her mother constantly. She quoted her, bragged about her cooking, had her make pound cake for the office (when she was well enough to do so), she was definitely a mama’s girl. I couldn’t mention Lily without her telling me what her mother would say, or what her mother did when she did whatever Lily had done. On that front, I know my friend is devastated.

So Lily and I took her some food. I made the same thing I’d made when her grandmother died. Her mother had sent me a thank you asking for the recipe. I had considered that such a compliment, the way my friend regarded her mother’s cooking skills. But I never did give her that recipe. What a lazy asshole. The least I could do was make it for her this one last time.

As soon as I put Lily in her carseat to leave, she asked my friend a question. Why did your mommy die?

Because she was sick, my friend said. But she’s better now because she’s in heaven.

My baby sister was sick.

I know. Maybe my mommy can take care of your baby sister in heaven.

Lily lit up. Yes! she said. And they can take care of my buddy, too!

Buddy is the slug we found and put in her little insect house. He died in there, much to Lily’s dismay.

So I was telling my well-meaning coworker about the conversation because personally, I think it’s adorable and the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.

My coworker apparently thought it was the saddest thing. She was obviously embarrassed, though, and I didn’t mean to do that to her. I kept thinking about going to her desk today to promise not to make her cry every time we talk (I’m new to the area so I didn’t want to give her the wrong impression).

Yet, somehow, for some reason, I just couldn’t do it. Because you know what? I don’t really think I’m sorry. I regret making her feel bad, of course, but I’m not sorry that she can’t deal with the subject of death. Death is a reality. It’s my reality. I’ve been through enough, dammit, I really don’t think I should have to apologize for it.

Does that make me cold?

  1. #1 by sweetsalty kate on June 3, 2010 - 9:31 pm

    Nah. It doesn’t make you cold. It makes you proficient at breathing underwater, and experiencing occasional exasperation at those who sputter.

    You’ve got gills. So do I. And I have to confess, I’ve gotten showy with mine too. If for nothing else, to grant myself the luxury of speaking Liam’s name. Even if it’s at the expense of the listener.

    Found you from your blogroll link, and this struck me, and so I had to say hello. So hello, and I’m so sorry about Olivia. You write beautifully of this path. Light to you.

  2. #2 by beth on June 4, 2010 - 12:31 am

    It is sad, but I agree that it’s adorable too. Although I really don’t like slugs!

    Over the years I think people will find it weird that Lily is so comfortable talking about death. But I think Lily is better off than the people who can’t bear to talk about it.

    And I think the same goes for you. Burying this, pretending Olivia’s death didn’t happen? That would not do you any good at all.

    Not cold at all.

  3. #3 by livemotionally on June 4, 2010 - 6:30 am

    Kate – my hero. You commented on my blog and I’m walking on sunshine. I read your blog long before I knew I would need Glow. When I did, I knew right where to go and will be eternally grateful. It is a luxury to speak their names, isn’t it? Everyone is so scared to whisper her name so when I do, I feel powerful or something. A little less out of control.

    Beth – I just hope she doesn’t grow up to be too morose. I’ve always thought gothic was cool, but I hope it doesn’t turn into some weird obsession. I mean, she wants to read When Dinosaurs Die before bed. I don’t look forward to explaining this to her preschool teacher so they aren’t too alarmed.

  4. #4 by beth on June 4, 2010 - 12:01 pm

    i doubt she will. i think she’ll end up well balanced in the end.

  5. #5 by Catherine W on June 5, 2010 - 6:37 am

    I don’t think it makes you cold. Sadly, every single one of us is going to have to deal with the subject of death at some point in our lives. Pretending it isn’t there won’t make it go away.

    As sweetsalty kate says, you’ve got gills. And I think there is a powerfulness to that? Or a strength? Gah, groping towards the right word here.

    Girls like Lily and Jessica are going to grow up with the ability to breathe underwater. They will have had to deal with a situation that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable from their early years. Sad but perhaps they will have a certain powerfulness to them too.

    I think that it is adorable. I always liked slugs and snails as a kid. I used to keep them in empty ice-cream tubs with mud and lettuce. I hope that Lily’s buddy is enjoying that big insect house up in the sky.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: