Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bad news, shouted across an intersection

Today I was walking in the neighborhood with my son in the stroller when I saw someone I knew in a car at the intersection. I hadn't seen her for, I don't know, probably a year, and really didn't know her all that well.

Anyway, when she saw us, she rolled down her window and asked if that was Samantha in the stroller. I knew immediately this wasn't going to be an easy conversation, but I attempted to end it quickly. I shouted across the intersection that no, this wasn't Samantha, it was my son Charlie who was almost 3. Then I tried to start walking again. She persisted, “How is Samantha doing?” Fuck. This is problematic. My only choices were to lie (fine!) and hope to never see her again or shout the truth across the intersection.

I had to go with the truth. Pause, pause, “Um, actually she passed away”. Her response was, of course, horrified shock. I hate this. I'm totally fine with talking about Samantha. Almost anytime. But what I really hate is breaking the news to someone. It's just so awful. It's a little like reliving the horror of it all again. And the person finding out the news is always traumatized. Hell, I'm vaguely traumatized at having to spell the whole thing out again. I just hate it. It wasn't her fault. It was a kind and thoughtful question. Just one I'd prefer not to answer anymore. Maybe I could just make a sign for these situations.

Today is the 18th - two months since Samantha has been gone. I'm pretty sure these have been the longest two months of my life. And certainly the worst.


  1. I just found your blog and I want to say that I'm sorry Samantha isn't in your arms and that you have to deal with situations like this one. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Man, I hated those. This is where the "My Baby Died" t-shirt comes in handy. I always felt guilty, and who the hell am *I* to feel guilty? Or badly? Really, they're going to feel bad for a few minutes, maybe a few hours if they're a nice compassionate person. You're going to feel badly for much longer.

    I'm really sorry. Two months out . . . that's still so fresh and raw and horrible. I'm amazed you were even outside -- I think I was still curled in a ball on my couch.