I was on the way to a doctor’s appointment when I stopped into a local coffee shop to pick up an iced coffee to sip on the way.
The lady in front of me in line seemed to have already finished her order. She had her coffee, but she was still chatting with the barista. They were looking at some pictures on his phone, and that’s when I realized. This is the guy I had heard about from Zach. He and his wife had a baby a few weeks after Owen was born/died. I knew about him because he was proudly showing his brand new son’s pictures off the first week Zach went back to work. Zach had stopped in for coffee to help him get through those first few rough, rough days. What awful timing for both new dads, I had thought at the time. So anyway, now here he was again, showing off his son, and here I was, just wanting my coffee. Another barista came out from the back and noticed me, finally, and called from behind the counter to ask what I wanted. I placed my order, and the chit-chatters finally dispersed so the proud dad could ring up my order. I paid, tipped, and was happy to be getting on my way. I wasn’t running late, but I wasn’t early either, so I was feeling a little pressure to get moving.
I was about to turn away. I was about to be able to avoid this interaction entirely, when all of a sudden, “Wait! I certainly can’t deprive you of pictures of my amazing four month old son!”
In another world, where I’m comfortable allowing myself and my grief to take up some space, I told this man that my baby son died in April, and I’d really rather not look at photos of his son, aged only 2 weeks or so less than my own would have been.
In this world, I gave the briefest of glances at his phone, grimaced at him in an attempt to smile, and barely made it out of the shop before I couldn’t contain the tears anymore.
And still I left wondering how rude he thought I must have been for not gushing over his precious baby.