I remember it well, the day last fall. It was getting cooler outside. It was like one day I had surgery in the Indian summer heat – and then I blinked – it was fall day and there were Halloween decorations everywhere. I had been “house bound” for just a little over a month and I was ready to get out. My big plans that beautiful fall day? I was going to surprise my husband with a treat and coffee from the Starbucks in the local Barnes & Nobles store. It was a HUGE thing for me! This was the first time I had left my house ALONE since the day before my surgery weeks and weeks ago.
It is not a long drive to the Barnes & Nobles from our house – maybe only 7 minutes if I got stuck at the lights. I was secretly hoping to get stuck at those lights so I could listen to my music, enjoy the breeze through the open windows and hear the birds chirping. Once I made it to the store I did some browsing since I felt that I had the strength. After about 10 minutes I decided not to push it… it was time to get the treats and then off to see my husband to surprise him.
I continue to look at books and doo-dads on my way to the dessert case. It was just after 11 am but there was quite a few people starting to order luncheon items and gather in the general area– I had made it just before the rush – I was so proud of myself! I was soon captivated by the dessert case – so shiny and bright and filled with delicious nummy good “bad for me” things! It was just so pretty! And then there was someone talking near me.
“When are you due?”
Oh – there must be a pregnant lady next to me. I have been so engrossed in the goody case I hadn’t noticed her come up. Good thing they don’t put these cases in my office while I am working! I would never get anything done for sure!
Then again, “When are you due?” This was then followed by a soft touch to my shoulder to get my attention.
Next came my internal monologue:
HOLY CRAPPERS! That question was for me!!! What the hell is going on? I am not pregnant! I just had a hysterectomy! I can’t have children! I will never have children! Who is this woman staring at me? Do I know her and I am too drugged to recognize her? No – I didn’t take anything this morning so I can make this trip. Why is she looking at me that way – so hopeful and smiling? Why is she now all bleary – OH CRAPPERS – I am tearing!! Quick – think quickly! Quick, quick, quick! And BE NICE!
Next came my external monologue (with a bright smile plastered on my face):
“Oh, sorry, I am not pregnant. I had a hysterectomy a month ago – what you see is the extensive swelling from my surgery. I can’t have children”. And I finished with that same smile on my face.
And then, something as unexpected as being asked when I was expecting happened. This woman started to cry – and apologize – profusely and continuously. It was at this exact moment 2 things happened at once:
- It was my turn to order
- The intake of air from the crowd around us sucked all the oxygen out of Barnes & Nobles
I felt bad I made her feel so badly. I feel even worse that she asked a question to a complete stranger, that she shouldn’t have (and that it was me). Maybe, jut maybe that whole ordeal would save another woman who had a bulbous belly region who would not have dealt as well. I just totally took one for the Hyster-Sister’s team! Go me!
I paid, waited for my order with a smile and made small talk about the beautiful weather, collected my items when they were prepared, walked out of the store with my head held high and with a smile on my face. I got to my car, placed the items on the floorboard of the back seat so they would not spill, sat down, put the keys in the ignition and then sat there, in the middle of the local Barnes & Nobles parking lot, crying.
All from four little words.