This afternoon was the law school holiday party. I got the invitation several weeks ago, asking me to RSVP with the number of children who would be attending from my family, and their ages, because Santa would be making a visit from the North Pole. I ignored the invitation (as I had already done for the law school Halloween trick-or-treat—it is so bizarre to wish that Hudson were here for these events, because if Hudson were still here, I would never have quit my old job and wouldn’t even be working at the law school). But then I got an email last week asking me if I was planning to attend. I wanted to ignore that, too, but had to respond that we couldn’t make it (which was, of course, not true).
The party started at 4, which is the time I usually leave. I had totally forgotten that it was even happening until I ran to the bathroom before packing up to leave and heard the Christmas carols wafting down from the atrium upstairs. I went back to my office, packed up my things, and put on my coat and hat. As I was leaving, I said my customary goodnight to the others in the office, and my boss said, “You’re not going upstairs?” I had not exactly been prepared to answer questions about the party. I said, “No, I’m not much for holiday parties.” And then I thought, “Well, that doesn’t sound right. I used to love holiday parties.” Before I could stop myself, I blurted out to all three people still there, “Well, not this year, at least. Not when there’s going to be a Santa and small children.” No one really said anything. One coworker asked if I’d be in on Wednesday (she only works Mondays and Wednesdays), and I said I would, and then we all said goodnight again.
After I left, I felt awful for having said that. I generally hate putting people on the spot, and I would never purposely want to make anyone feel bad for saying something without thinking. And yet, because I came to that office four months after Hudson died, I feel like no one there really gets it (with the exception of the person who hired me—I cried in her office during the interview and even though she’s moved to a different position and is not the boss anymore, she still regularly asks me how I am doing). I feel like, to them, Hudson’s death was just an event that happened sometime in the past, before they knew me. I guess I feel like maybe they don’t understand how much of an effect it still has on me, how hard it is for me to get up and go there every day, where every single one of my colleagues has children, most of them little, and I have to listen to them talk about what their kids are doing, or even meet them when they bring them in. So in that instant, I guess I just wanted to remind them that my incredible child died only 7 months ago and even though I am pregnant again, now visibly so, and even though I can put on a pretty good front most of the time so that no one has to feel uncomfortable around me, I am still really, really hurting in this world without my little girl.
Again, this is where a sign around my neck would really come in handy.