“Hey, I am working on a t-shirt design for a memorial run. Wanna’ see it, give me some feedback? You heard about that runner in Sun Prairie who was killed by the pastor who was driving drunk…? It was crazy. Horrible. So tragic.”
(Ok, I’ll look at the design. I can be objective. I don’t feel quite as sensitive about death, accidents, hospitals, tragedies, as I did a few months ago. Just breathe.)
“So why did you move to Madison?”
(Oh no! Not that question again!! I hate that question!! I moved here because my husband got a job here. Phew. There! Done! I didn’t even have to mention that he is now…dead. And that I have no idea what I am still doing here. And that I get very confused about what’s next, and start to feel my heart race in anxiety when I think about trying to sell our house. Just breathe, let people move onto another topic, order lunch.)
“Yeah, we were pretty worried about our dog. She had to have surgery to remove two cancerous tumors. But they said she’ll be ok.”
(Oh. Ok. That’s starting to hit a little close to home. They were able to spare a dog. But not my husband. Stay calm, keep it cool. It’s not the same thing. Focus on your salad. Don’t think about cancer.)
“Oh, so you live in Sun Prairie? Isn’t that where that runner got killed…?”
“Yeah! She was our neighbor…!”
(Geez, are we back on this topic again? I am starting to feel a bit sick, here. I wish this Department lunch wasn’t taking place at a restaurant. I am not feeling calm, objective, or hungry anymore. Might need to get up and leave.)
“No way. I coached her son in hockey…”
(Ok, can we please, PLEASE, move on now? Surely people know when to stop talking about death around someone who just experienced a lot of it…)
“Well, people, you think that’s bad, our accountant’s husband died suddenly. Pulmonary embolism. Then the very next day, out of the blue, her mom died. What on earth do you do when when something like that happens?”
B*I*N*G*O!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You just hit the target!! It was bound to happen, things were building up, but thanks for the cherry on top! After all, my dad and husband just died last year. Did you already forget? Why ask the question hypothetically? I am sitting right here and can tell you first-hand how it feels. How would that be for a little light lunch conversation? I can throw in all kinds of stomach churning details if you’d like.
(Instead, I somehow managed to say, “Ok, can we stop talking about death now?”, and barely excused myself from the table before the tears hit.)
Just another week at the office…navigating emotional landmines and lunch. Not the worst week. But not the best one either. Sometimes work is a safe place. But sometimes, when you are grieving, no place is a safe place. Though, I never really thought death or cancer were great lunch topics, even before my husband and dad died.