Empathy on My Mind
:: a little anecdote from my summer that won’t loosen its grip ::
“That’s what you gotta do to keep her around: you gotta give her some grandchildren!”
Goosebumps crawled over my arms, little hairs standing on end. My cheeks grew hot. Tears congregated in the corners of my eyes as I stared at a stain on the concrete. Black circle, black circle inside a bigger black circle surrounding a smaller black circle. If I stared long enough maybe it’d eat me up.
I’m sure he meant it as a joke.
The words felt like someone punched me in the gut. See, he didn’t know we’d lost our baby a year ago, almost to the day. I wouldn’t expect a stranger to know this, to censor his comments accordingly. This is why I laughed; to be kind, to show that his words didn’t shred my insides with their sharp blades, one organ after the other ceasing to exist.
It wasn’t his fault barbed wire-words cinched my lungs and cut off any words of my own.
Coated Pink Words
A full season has passed since I last posted on our travels. I’d apologize if I were sorry, but I’m not. I’ve done some traveling of a different sort over the months since we lost our baby and I wasn’t ready to share that here.
I won’t bore you with platitudes or inspirational quotes made for memes and re-posts about how everything will work out or get better or how change is always for the best. Worthless drivel has no place when you’re faced with things that are truly heartbreaking. No one hears one of those sentences and genuinely feels changed. It’s not an instantaneous thing. It’s work.
I had been writing my (now out on submission) novel the night before everything went pear-shaped. It was a difficult section to write: my character had just endured pages of an abortion and its physical aftermath but what she was saying had nothing to do with that. When I came back to the document a few days later in an (failed) attempt at normalcy, this was the paragraph that greeted me:
Cranes and bulldozers silently dismantled one of the crumbling buildings along the town’s outer street. Where there was once a floor, a window, a bed, maybe even a family there was now a mechanical claw yanking it all apart, tearing down the foundation. I knew it ought to be loud, of course, but I could only focus on the smell of asbestos and decades of soot and dust infiltrating my nostrils, my throat, and coating my tongue in a thick grey smut. (more…)