Thursday, September 1, 2011

At the Salad Bar

One of the perks of my job is that I get a free lunch everyday.  Because I loathe packing a lunch, this is great news.  And the dining hall on campus is pretty decent.  At the very least, there's a fresh salad bar every day.  Vegetarian fare is always available.  And it's free, so I can't complain.

Today I was at the salad bar behind a student who was in my comp class last semester.  A nice kid.  I liked him.  He made a spinach salad and then handed over the tongs so I could scoop up my spinach leaves.

As he did so, he casually asked, "Hey, how's the baby?"

And right there at the salad bar, with a pane of glass separating me from neatly sliced vegetables and brightly colored shredded cheese, with fluorescent lights overhead and a college kid in basketball shorts standing next to me, I had to say, "Oh.  Well, we had very sad news.  We lost the baby."

I said it while focusing on pinching green spinach leaves between plastic tongs and transferring them to the little white bowl on my tray.  Concentrating.  Willing myself not to cry.

He said that he was so sorry.

I tried to keep my voice light.  "Yes.  It's been really rough.  Thank you for asking, though.  I'm just glad the semester has started and I can try to get back to normal."

Right.  The semester has started and let me tell you, "normal" is no where to be found.

I walked by the tables full of other faculty and sat at a small table by myself, pulling out a book--my best means of defense against unwanted conversation and escape from undesirable reality.

But it was too late.  My hands were shaking.  My eyes were full of tears threatening to spill over.  My appetite was gone.

I ate two bites of salad before giving up.  I put my tray on the conveyor belt, gathered my things, and headed back to my office to cry.

And now I sit.  Door locked, lights off.  Sunshine spilling in between dusty mini-blinds.  Looking at my computer.  Crying.

I have to teach another class in fifteen minutes.

Why does this have to be my story?  Why do I have to be the one whose baby died?  Why did this have to happen to me?


  1. I have no answers for any of your questions because it's not friggin' fair. It's so nice to have had him ask you about Eliza, but so heartbreaking to have this be her story. Fuck.

    I'm sorry Brooke. Wish I was there to drink wine with you. :)

  2. Crying with you. How nice that someone thought of her today, though!

  3. I just hate moments like this. I am so sorry it happened to you today.

  4. I am so sorry. So sorry it happened to you. So sorry.

  5. It's not fair. I don't have the answer to the why - I asked myself that a million times but I finally gave up looking for an answer. I'm so sorry. Sending love.

  6. Sometimes an office door that locks is a great gift, but I wish you didn't need it. I'm so sorry. I wish this part of your story were much different.

  7. FOL! i feel the same way. why??? sending you so much love and ((hugs)).

  8. I hate those moments. With me, it was almost always a 16 year old who had kids they didn't exactly want or parent very well, asking if I had kids. Some days I said yes and explained, and some days I said no. It always sucked, either way I answered.

  9. way to prepare for that, just knocked your feet out from under you. I'm sorry, and I'm afraid it'll happen a few more times as students return for the semester.

  10. Yup. I had a few of these moments with neighbors who hadn't seen me for a while. It just plain fucking sucks. The worst was when a car driving by me and E as we walked the dogs slammed on its brakes, reversed, and a guy leaned out his window and asked "Hey where's your baby??!?!?!"

    I don't think you can ever be prepared for moments like this, and I just hate that this is our story.

    I'm so sorry.

    sending much love. xo

  11. Oh sweetie...I am so sorry you were caught out if the blue like that. It are those kind of moments that break me down even on my best days. I never know what to say. Reality sucks!

  12. I'm so sorry. I'm sending you "get through the day" thoughts.

  13. I am so sorry, Brooke. Thinking of you!

  14. I'm glad he said he was sorry. It's always terrible when, on top of the pain, you are dealing with social retards.

    hope the rest of your day was ok

  15. Oh Brooke, it's so hard when you get blindsided like that. I feel bad for him, too, when he was trying to be nice. Lots of hurt today. I'm sorry.

  16. Oh, these out of the blue incidents are so hard, even years later. :( He sounds like a nice kid, though, & of course he meant very well. ((((hugs)))

  17. You are not alone Brooke.. promise.

  18. I am so sorry Brooke. Sending love and remembering Eliza with you~

  19. 'Why does this have to be my story? Why do I have to be the one whose baby died? Why did this have to happen to me?'
    Exactly. It's just so unfair. You wouldn't wish it on anyone either.
    Sorry this happened at work, to end up with you heart in your mouth at the lunch table.
    I hope the class went ok?
    Sweet Eliza. xo

  20. I am so sorry Brookester. Isn't it awful when a pleasant interaction can turn bad so quickly and just level you? But Nurslouisa is right, it is going to happen a few more times most likely, and I hope it gets a little easier, although I'm not sure that it will.
    It happened to you for the same reason it happened to the rest of us: because life just fucking sucks sometimes. That's about all I can come up with. Aren't I just so wise?...
    I am thinking of you and Eliza and hoping it gets a little easier for you.
    Lots of love,

  21. Oh Brooke that sucks when you get caught off guard like that.
    I wish I had an answer to those questions also. Just not fair.
    I hope you are feeling better today.

  22. I don't know. I just don't know. I wish I did.
    And I wish this wasn't your story. Truly.
    I'm so sorry, Brooke. Those exchanges from the early months of my grief still make me want to cry in my salad.

  23. I'm so sorry she's not's just so unfair.