Saturday, April 10, 2010

The First Gesture of Sympathy I Ever Received

I am lying in the hospital room, and it is morning. The sky is steel grey and heavy sheets of rain are pouring down. The lights are all off. There is a privacy screen hanging over the window, white with tiny holes all over it, and the dull daylight creeps in, but there are no shadows. The walls are a dusty rose color, the floor is beige linoleum tile. The cabinets across from the bed are oak, and from the CD player the haunting strains of the English Patient soundtrack fill my head. I am lying on my side, and I can't imagine for the life of me what I am thinking about. I think I am in a void, a numb, sleepy void. I was up almost all night, and it is now 8 AM. I am waiting for my epidural, which has been gently suggested to me by my midwife, because maybe I want to create space for my emotional pain. An automaton, I concede, yes, this sounds like a good idea. Let's create some space for that. So now I lie here, waiting, the sad music flowing around me. I think Greg is in the little bed with me, because I can't imagine he would have been anywhere else. Maybe he is curled behind me, as I am curled around Charlotte, the three of us like descending commas, a kernel of life.
Then there is a knock at the door, so I imagine Greg gets out of the bed as the nurse and then the doctor come around the white curtain into the room. The doctor has a tray of things, and he is introduced to me. He is Eastern European, with an accent. He tells me to roll over on my side, and I do, in my fog.
The music plays.
He is wiping off my back, and I feel so small, so awkward. Here I am, getting this epidural as if I'm going to have a baby, except for that I'm not. They told me back in that room with the ultrasound that there is no baby, so now I'm just going through these motions of childbirth.
The alcohol is cold on the small of my back, and the music is all there is, except for the silence of the people in the room.
Then he clears his throat and speaks to me, for the first time.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I don't know what to say."
Nobody speaks.
The epidural goes in, and then he is gone.
I lie there, pregnant, except that I'm not having a baby.

Later, when I remember his words breaking the silence, I realize he will be one of the only people who actually says the right thing.


Sara said...

It's amazing how simple the right thing to say can be.

Carol, these are so powerful.

Shannon said...

That is all that needs to be said or can be said.

I agree, very powerful.

Jen said...

I shudder to think of all the wrong things said. I'm glad the first words of sympathy were the right words.

Hope's Mama said...

I'm with everyone else, so powerful. Might have to "borrow" this idea myself one day.

Minnesota Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlotte's Mama said...

Aren't you curious about who deleted their comment, and why?

Shannon said...

It was emailed to me as a follow-up comment and it wasn't inappropriate or anything so I don't know why it was deleted. Maybe it was an accident?

Brenda Marie said...

thank you... simple words are the best...