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).
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.
Christmas without you is breaking my heart all over again.