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?