Yesterday morning was really hard for me. I spent the first hour of the morning crying at the back of the bus. Nobody saw me. I was really quiet. I was having a private moment as best I could. 

Anyway, an Israeli colleague, who I don't know well, has been traveling with us. She brought along her husband and baby. I'm not sure how old the baby is but I'd say she's about eight months. This colleague came to the back of the bus to nurse her child and found me crying. 

When she was done nursing, she turned around and climbed next to me with the baby. She asked if everything was ok and I told her I was fine. She looked really concerned and asked if she and the baby could do anything for me. She then started babbling with baby, thinking that perhaps just being in the presence of her cute baby would cheer me up. How could I tell her that the baby could not cheer me up. Mostly I was looking at her thinking, "I was once like you."  "Did someone say something to hurt your feelings?", she asked me - heartfeltly.

I am not sure why I decide to tell some people and not others. Sometimes I make the right decision and other times I bomb, making myself feel worse. She has kind eyes though and is a mother and seems earthy and real. So, I told her about Max - something I regret. She didn't deserve to hear about him. And, she wasn't ready for it.

I swear I think if I had said that yes, someone had said something to hurt my feelings, she would have been more empathetic. When I told her that my child died, her face remained stone-like and she decided to share her thoughts about life and death, which were basically platitudinous. She believes everyone has their time and his soul was finished and so on and so forth - all the while making googley eyes with her own living, breathing child. I just nodded. I thought the speech would never end. According to her, my child's death was just meant to be. Easy for her to say.

The day before, I sat with the young head of our IT department and told him about Max and found a completely empathetic, sweet, and non judgmental soul. Yes, he's a father, but he never even brought up his kids. He just listened and agreed that life is so hard. He shared some hard stories of his own, but never compared our losses.  He wasn't afraid. He didn't try to fix me. 

It can be strange finding out who has it in them to be a friend and who really doesn't.

There have been a few incidents like the first one I described. One mother on my bus actually got annoyed with me for telling her about Max because she was trying to listen to someone else who was playing a game at the front of the bus. She apologized later for not being able to listen to me with a stone cold poker face.  Later she cried her eyes out while watching a film about special needs kids.  It doesn't add up.

Another bereaved parent on my bus says he never shares his son with anyone ever. (Yes, there are two of us on this trip! It's mind boggling). His son is much too precious and he doesn't want to be the topic of anyone's gossipy talk. I am often the opposite, wanting to share with everyone, because I feel completely inauthentic without talking about Max. His brief life defines, in large part, who I am today - just as my colleague's living baby seems to define her similarly.

The thing is - I decided not to let it get to me. There is a reason I keep Max close to me and don't share him with everyone. They don't always deserve to hear his story and I need to protect myself as well. It's a learning process for sure. I am an open book kind of person. I always have been. But, that is when my life was uncomplicated. My expectations are low. I'm easily impressed. The ones who listen and care make an impact. The ones who don't are fine - I politely smile at their response and remind myself not to share with them in the future.


GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

Few statements trouble me more than someone telling me that it must have been "time" for my child to die, that their work on this earth was finished. What BS!! Nothing could be further from the truth.
It takes all my self control to restrain myself. I always make it clear that I disagree with their opinion before I remove myself from the situation.

Em said...

It's strange isn't it how some of us need to share our children and some need to hold them close and keep them to themselves...I wonder where I'll be in seven long has the other dad lost his child for? I'm always interested in timelines...maybe looking for hope or how I'll be or something, I don't know what...I'm sorry that woman was such an ignoramus. What a pain. I'm sorry she didn't give max the respect he deserves and you the compassion you could have used. Wish I was in Israel too...

robyn said...

It has to be hard to put yourself and Maxie out there when you do decide to share with people and I am sorry that some people just can't deal with the information you are sharing. I am thankful that you choose to share with us though. know that your friends will always listen and talk about Maxie with you.

Abby Leviss said...

Em - wish you had been in Israel too! The other father lost his son about 6 months before I lost Max. He is a very different personality type. He never ever shares. But, in a weird way, I think he pain is almost more intense because he has to keep it all bottled up all of the time. I get his approach though. I also always wonder where I will be further down this road.