“How far along were you dear? Are you sure? This has happened before? Was the pregnancy confirmed? What’s the longest you’ve carried?”
I had to go to the hospital on Friday, when suddenly I started bleeding a whole bunch more. I stood in a crowded waiting room, explaining my sorry and pathetic obstetrical history. It’s not that I’m bleeding, it’s that there’s so much, and I don’t even know if you need to see me, but I know I’m in pain and I’m frightened and I’m all alone because there was no one to go with me, and I just want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t want to be brave and grown up.
And I looked up at the last question and sighed. 26 weeks, I developed pre-eclampsia. He died shortly after he was born.
And there was this look in her eyes. This horrible, awful look. You can differentiate pity.
There is pity that lets you stay with a person. When you accept and understand that you don’t know what its like to be someone, but you can imagine they might need compassion and mercy. You can sit a while with them. Abide. You don’t poke and prod, question, you do what needs to be done, and you let the other person be human.
And then there’s the other kind. I get a lot of the other kind. I get a lot of “I can’t imagine” and “I couldn’t cope” and they run away. Without ever moving their body, I can feel their mind withdraw. I can feel them flee.
The first kind of pity is what makes us so wonderfully human. It builds bridges, it is mercy and compassion. It is the bedrock of humanity. It is goodness and care and solace. It builds up, allows us to connect, expand, absorb. We become better, larger, more generous. Jesus tells me that the Kingdom of God is something like this.
The second kind makes me want to cringe. Standing at this horrible counter, with everyone around me, losing another baby, and I’m trying to explain. I don’t want to be called dear, I don’t want to be told to keep my chin up, and I don’t want to answer questions about what is or is not being done for me. I just want to know. This blood and this pain, can you do anything for it? Is it ok? Is there a problem? Do I need tests? Can I go home?
I know I’ll sit in this damn waiting room, for hours, bleeding. I know I’ll be alone, knitting a sock, crying a little bit, occasionally. And you can’t change that, and I don’t want you to try. I know what I’m facing, I’ve been here before. What I need is simple. . .
Just sit with me, this place is lonely and frightening. Just sit and be human with me.