Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Words Come More Easily

The doorbell rings and I quickly answer it, hoping it's Keith to clean our gutters. Trees have been growing in the troughs again, and neither DH nor I have a love of ladders. It's not Keith, it's college undergrad selling children's "educational" materials.

"Hello, I'm here to talk with folks who have children."

"Ah, sorry, we don't have children." I step back to close the door with a smile.

"Well, then," he offers me an elbow, "congrats you escaped that."

"Oh, no," I keep my elbows to myself, "We had a child, but she died. We don't have any children living in our home."

He drops his elbow and stares at me, and stammers.

"Oh, oh, I'm sorry. I . . . "

"Thank you. How can I help?"

There's some part of me that tries to save the individual who's drowning in his/her own assumptions that if you have children--whoo hoo, and if you don't--whoo hoo. No one expects someone to merely explain that they have a dead child. But, you know what, I'm not silent anymore. Screw you, public. Live in your own sterile world. Mine is not sterile and I won't participate anymore. Words come more easily now. Caitlin has been gone nearly 3 years, but she's firmly entrenched in my life.

"Well, I'm a college intern, selling these children's educational books. Could you help me with which of your neighbors have children." He shows me a map of my neighborhood.

I predict he will be fine, if not highly successful, in his business endeavors. After all, he just learned to ask the dead baby mama about all the other parents with living children in the neighborhood. I comply.

"Neighbor next door is single (just suffered a divorce). Across the street and behind us are two widows (both who lost their husbands tragically after our daughter died). The neighbors next to them moved away because they lost their house in the flood, but the house next to theirs, the one that's for sale---they have loads of kids (that mom, dad, and in-laws yell at constantly, and the youngest screams daily at the top of his lungs)."

"Ah, thanks. . . I don't mean to be a pain, but we didn't bring any water with us. Do you have a bottle of water?"

I give him a bottle of water and send him on his way. Next time I answer the bell, I hope it's the college interns who offered deck washing and staining---oh, and powerwashing for siding.


  1. Can I just say how amazingly nice and kind you are? I would not have been so nice. xo

  2. I am new to your blog and just "caught up" and I too do not think I could have been as nice as you..I know we "should" but sometimes it is so damn hard..especially when stupid just flies out of their mouths..

  3. I have to agree with Angie. I think I probably would have shut the door after the first exchange. He certainly wouldn't have been getting tips and bottled water. You are truly kind. x

  4. You handled that quiet calmly with alot of tact. The words do come easier these days. Less shaking, less vomit inducing jitters before telling someone my child died.


  5. I think it is great that you let him know about Caitlyn. Like you said, "Screw you, public!"

    I also think that was great that you helped him out anyway. Way to go!

  6. "Screw you, public. Live in your own sterile world. Mine is not sterile and I won't participate anymore."

    this could be a babylost mama fight song!

    Good for you! You handled that exchange with grace, composure and love for your daughter.

  7. Good for you, both in telling him the truth and not letting him get away with the "whoo-hoo" he tried to pull and also for helping him out and giving him water. Above and beyond.

    Hope your powerwashers and stainers show up soon.

  8. An incredibly graceful response. I feel like I am in the same place as you these days (but not as graceful). I will not NOT say the words. I will try to be kind about it, but there is no getting around it, someone telling you their child is dead is shocking. And I'm terribly sorry about that world. But you're just going to have to deal with that.

    Just like we do.

  9. wow. Good for you for your reply!

  10. Wow, that kid had some balls.

    Good for you, though, letting him know straight up about your situation.