So. Yesterday morning I went to an exercise class - Zumba - very fun, dance-y, kick-my-butt kind of class. It's held in the basement of the church I belong to.
This was my third time going, and James and I were the first ones there. (James was not exercising, he was being good with toys in a corner.) The next person to arrive, after us, was this woman I'll call "X." I haven't seen her in a while; she was a member of the church several years ago, then left, and now, she tells me, is back.
"You probably don't remember me," she said. "We left for a while, but now we're back. How old is your son?"
Superficial pleasantries, etc.
The thing is, I DO remember her. And yes, I do my very best to ignore her presence in the world.
The Christmas I was pregnant with Ben, she and I were at an Advent wreath making workshop at church. She asked me when the baby was due, and we exchanged random tidbits. One month later, Ben was dead.
The following Christmas, there we are at the Advent wreath making workshop again. And "X" turns to me and says, "Where's your baby?"
I stared at her in utter disbelief. Didn't say anything. She asked again, and I stumbled over the words, "He died." Which, you might think, would lead most people to say something along the lines of, "Oh, I'm so sorry," and perhaps drop it.
But no. "X" starts questioning me incessantly, almost as if she didn't believe me. And believe me, people in the church knew, without a doubt, that Ben was gone. It was announced verbally in services, in the bulletin, in the church newsletter. We had a funeral for him. At Easter, one of my friends gave flowers in Ben's memory. His name was in the bulletin for All Saint's Day. On the Sundays when I attended, I wept the entire time. And there sat "X," not believing me, too thick and socially inept to shut the hell up. After a whole year of seeing me there WITHOUT a baby. I mean, hello?
One of my friends was sitting across the table, and after the whole exchange was over, she looked at me, in nearly as much disbelief as I was in. "I was ready to lunge across the table and throttle her," she said.
I was just stunned. Completely stunned.
So there she was, yesterday morning. And I pretended that, no, I didn't remember her. When, in truth, I don't think I will ever forget who she is, and what she said.