My (former) friend from the market

One of the things we loved most about our neighborhood when we moved here was our local supermarket.  It isn't anything too special but it has a wonderful fresh produce section and it is walking distance from our home.  I took many many walks there with Maxie while I was out on maternity leave and had various post-partum cravings. 

While I was pregnant with Maxie, I became friendly with one of the employees who works in the produce section.  His wife was pregnant at the same time (with their second) and was due a month after me.  We spoke a lot about babies and checked in on each other always - before and after Maxie's birth.  After losing Maxie, I dreaded going back to that store.  It reminded me too much of being there happy with him.  Markets in general were a nightmare for a long time, but that one in particular was really hell. 

I finally got up the courage several months ago to go there again and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Being able to take Mo to the market with me has made shopping enjoyable again.  I NEVER thought I would like shopping ever again - but I do.  Over the period of a couple months, I visited this market many times and never saw my produce section friend.  I was relieved.  He had confided that he didn't really like working there anyway so I just hoped that perhaps he had found a better opportunity.

A couple of weeks ago, I was filling a prescription and I saw him across the store.  I had planned on picking up some extra stuff but instead I booked it out of there.  I dreaded coming face to face with him after all of this time and having him ask me about my baby.  What would I tell him?  That my baby was not ok?  That my baby died?  It's just too much to even think about. 

I had to pick up a few things on Monday afternoon and drove a little further away to another market.  As I pulled up, I saw a guy in front of the store yelling and screaming and having a breakdown and I just knew I could not handle it.  So, against my better judgment, I drove to the local market.  I worked my way around the whole periphery of the market before braving my way into the center produce area.  I saw my produce friend there but I looked away.  I was hoping he just would be so engrossed in whatever he was doing that he wouldn't even see me.  I only had three produce items to get.  He did see me though and marched right up to me.  "Long time no see!", he said, grinning ear to ear, "where have you been?"  "Oh hi", I replied.  I tried to act confused, like I didn't recognize him.  "It's been so long!", he said again, "how is your baby?"  My heart stopped.  I looked at Mo and said "Fine" and then continued to act spaced I didn't know him.  I felt like such a jerk.  But, I just couldn't do it - I couldn't tell him how my baby was - because I can barely believe it and I hate having to say it out loud.  He got the message and mumbled a quick "See you around" before taking off to the other side of the section. 

I felt terrible afterwards.  More about having had to brace myself for what should have been such a simple conversation.  I can only hope that now, he doesn't like me and won't be saying hello anymore so that I go to the store and not have to worry about seeing him and telling him about my broken heart.


Anonymous said...

You can only do what you can do. This is such a good example of needing to be gentle with one another. We never know what's going on for people; as a therapist I can't even begin to tell you how many people I see who look totally fine on the outside but are quitely living a daily hell. Grief is tricky, don't be too hard on yourself.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel. I would do exactly the same as you did if were me. We are actually wanting to move away to a new location. It's just not so easy to do that right now with jobs and house.
Take care. Do whatever feels right for you. Don't be hard on yourself.


Becca said...

This post is so very sad. It's a reminder that Max's death affects literally every single aspect of your life. I am so sorry. Thank you for being willing to share your journey.