Friday, December 17, 2010

The Party

I survived.  I cried, but I survived.

There is a small bit of me that is glad I attended.  Everyone who works with J loves him to pieces, and there's nothing like drunk, jolly doctors to make one smile (you can always tell which doctor is on call by the beeper on his hip and the longing looks he directs at the bar and any alcoholic drink that catches his eye).

We live in Oregon so people were wearing everything from fancy party dresses to jeans.  You can show up to any event in Oregon wearing jeans and a fleece.  I'm serious.  It's like a secret dress code that true Oregonians are born knowing; it's in our blood.  I think the good citizens of the East Coast would be horrified by our party attire. 

My pants didn't fit.  I decided not to buy a new pair so wore an old pair of size six dress pants with the button undone, the zipper halfway down, and a belly band slapped on top.


The practice has only been open since the beginning of the year and it's growing by leaps and bounds - so much so that they just hired a fifth cardiologist - so everyone was in a celebratory mood.  It's really amazing that the group has grown so much in such a short time (J started there in March.  Dr. G, my favorite cardiologist by far, poached him from the hospital.  If you're curious, J is a cardiac/vascular sonographer).

I was so proud of J tonight.  The people he work with like and respect him so much.  At the end of the night Dr. G shook J's hand and told him how much he is appreciated.  I think J knows the cardiologists appreciate and need him (They pursued him for months before opening their practice.  They wanted him and they were willing to bend and bow to persuade him to work for them.  I always imagine Dr. G approaching him in a dark corridor in the hospital, leaning in with his thick accent (he's Persian) and offering J bonuses, raises and zero call hours) but it's always nice to hear you're needed.

A few people, including Dr. K and Dr. G rubbed my shoulder, hugged me, said they were glad I could make it.  Soon after we walked in Dr. G directed us to the bar.  J said, "I don't drink and she's trying to get pregnant."  My mouth dropped open.  I know I blog about these things, but I don't tell everyone I see about my trying to conceive dramas.  Then Dr. G told us a convoluted story about beer being the way to get pregnant and how he ended up with his third child that way.  And then J said something about it being that time in between when we're really not sure ... I was mortified, but Dr. G didn't seem to mind the topic at all.  It never ceases to shock me how open people in the health care field are.  

We sat across from one of J's new co-workers.  Two minutes after sitting down she mentioned her four kids and then asked if we have any.  I let J stumble through that one.  My heart rate was somewhere in the 120 range and I didn't feel like talking.

Every hour I tapped J's leg so he would remember to pull a small bottle of Bach Flower Essences (for stress and emotional relief) out of his pocket and places it in my hand.  I surreptitiously added it to my water, or placed two drops on my tongue.

At the end of the party J was on the opposite side of the restaurant participating in the holiday gift exchange.  I was standing at the end of the long table in the middle of the room when a woman he works with began talking to me.  She was at least heavily tipsy, if not fully drunk, and we talked for a little while about the gift exchange, the doctors' present and the cost of Christmas.  Then she said this:

"I just love working with your husband.  He always his nice things to say, he's such a nice man.  And he's so kind, he says the sweetest little compliments about you.  Like he'll mention that you do or like something.  You like to read, right?"

I nodded, stunned silent by all of the words coming my way.

"Well, yeah, he'll talk about things like that because I like to read too.  This must be so awkward, someone complimenting your husband like this, but he's really great.  And I know this year has been so hard for you guys and I just want you to know how sorry I am.  I noticed your necklaces as soon as you walked in the door and they're just so beautiful.  I don't want this to be uncomfortable or awkward, but I want you to know I am sorry for the loss of your daughter and I think of you all the time."

My eyes fill with tears.  "No, thank you, just thank you.  No one really talks about it and I appreciate you for bringing it up."

"I know this Christmas must be so hard for you.  I think of you and your daughter often.  I don't want this to be awkward, I just want you to know."

I'm nodding, crying, apologizing for crying.

She smiles.  "I need to go get a drink for one of the doctor's now.  I promised him I would a while ago."

And then she's off and away and Dr. K and Dr. I are so blurred and I dash to the back, where there are some booths near the bathroom, but they've pulled the tables away so it's a strange place, two booths facing each other with nothing in between, and I collapse into the red booth, wipe my eyes furiously, stare down at the belly that seven months ago held a living, breathing being, and it's attempting to escape its constrictions, and in that moment I hate everything about me and my life.  I tap my feet, rub my face, try to compose myself.  A woman who was drunk five minutes after the party started, stumbles into the area where I'm sitting, asks if I'm waiting in line for the bathroom, and when I say no, I'm just sitting here, she tumbles into the booth behind me to wait.  I breath in, breathe out, and then I wipe my eyes, straighten my spine, suck in my stomach and rejoin the party with a trembling smile on my face.  Half an hour later we leave.  I cry most of the way home.

Sweet girl,


Christmas without you is breaking my heart all over again.    

8 comments:

  1. Funny what a little alcohol can do for people's inhibitions. I'm glad people were able to offer their support even if it was a shoulder pat or knowing smile. It's hard, but also nice to know that people are thinking of you and your beautiful Charlotte. I'm proud of you for being so strong tonight and strangely proud of your hub too for being able to just say those things out loud considering my first reaction was to be mortified for you. Much love lady~

    ReplyDelete
  2. Angela, you made it through the party, that is a huge accomplishment. Just getting dressed for it is a huge accomplishment, and then actually going, and enduring it for a long time - wow. I am so proud of you, mama - so courageous, really. We have a holiday event tonight and I can only hope it goes sort of smoothly, I am terrified.

    I love that woman for speaking to you about Charlotte, for letting you know. I was just saying to a friend at dinner last night that I wish everyone could be like my best friend's five year old, who comes in my house, sees Otis's picture, and says, "There's your baby Otis, Sarah. He couldn't stay here with us, but that picture was right after he was born. He went to heaven and we sent him balloons. I love baby Otis." I wish everyone could let us know that they are thinking of our children, but sadly social "graces" get in the way and they second guess themselves.

    Sending you much love, as always.

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  3. That was so kind of that woman to come up to you and say that, I wish more people were that way. Open and honest about our lost children and giving such an incredible gift in remembering. It sounds to me like you did really well at putting on a brave face, this is an incredibly difficult time of year, be gentle with yourself, all of us I think are stumbling through the Holiday merriment best we can ((hugs))

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  4. A LOVE SONG

    The mention of my child's name
    may bring tears to my eyes
    but it never fails to
    bring music to my ears.
    If you really are my friend
    please, don't keep me
    from hearing the beautiful music.
    It soothes my broken heart
    and fills my soul with love.

    ~~~Nancy Williams



    this is what your evening reminded me of.....Im sending you BIG hugs...you passed a huge milestone last night, and you also supported your husband. Its nice when we know the men are saying things about us we dont realize that they notice....But I read your blog so i DO know all of the stuff that he told her too...xoxoxo

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  5. how lovely that that woman remembers your beautiful charlotte.

    sending love x

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  6. You looked beautiful! And your comment about attire reminds me of where I live in Boulder. Fleece is almost a requirement, and when dining out in Boulder - anything goes. Although casual is more the norm.

    And it is a big accomplishment to make it through the party with your husband. I know I'm usually proud of myself when I make it through what I anticipate will be a tough social event.

    I also love that that woman spoke to you about Charlotte - awkward or not. Babies dying is awkward, and not talking about it is awkward, and talking about it can be awkward too. I wish more people could get over that and just say something.

    Much love to you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You looked beautiful! And your comment about attire reminds me of where I live in Boulder. Fleece is almost a requirement, and when dining out in Boulder - anything goes. Although casual is more the norm.

    And it is a big accomplishment to make it through the party with your husband. I know I'm usually proud of myself when I make it through what I anticipate will be a tough social event.

    I also love that that woman spoke to you about Charlotte - awkward or not. Babies dying is awkward, and not talking about it is awkward, and talking about it can be awkward too. I wish more people could get over that and just say something.

    Much love to you.

    ReplyDelete

thank you!

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