Sunday, December 24, 2006
It's not often (i.e., never) that I write about more serious topics here; I sort of consider this my little outlet from that stuff. But I saw something this week that really affected me, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I'm a little nervous to make what you will soon see is a dramatic deviation from the general tone of this blog (e.g., discussions on unintentionally hilarious children's toys, run-ins with hobos, and lately for some reason, myriad forms of barf). But like I said, it's been on my mind, so I finally figured that perhaps I should just write about it. I promise, I'll go back to talking about my usual crap tomorrow :) I was taking the subway to work on Thursday, and like everyone else, I was in my own little world. The guy to my right was ensconced in the Wall Street Journal. I was reading a great book. (Thanks again, Miss Peach.) A teenage boy across the aisle was checking out the (admittedly nice) ass of a lady standing with her back to him. Seated next to the boy, a woman about my age was staring intently at a creased and well-worn piece of paper in one hand. She had a worried/intense look of concentration on her face, and was fiddling with a tiny diamond cross on a chain around her neck with the other hand. I'm not even sure she realized she was doing it. The hand that was holding the page was shaking a bit. Her fingertips were white from holding the paper so tightly. I watched her for a few moments, curious as to what she could be reading, and went back to my book. At the next stop, an elderly man boarded the train, so I gave my seat to him and got up. I wound up standing right by the woman who was staring at the page in front of her. I couldn't help it; I glanced down to see what she was reading. It was a page of instructions from her doctor related to ongoing fertility treatments. She'd scribbled notes all over it, and the page was wrinkled from her holding it so tightly. I obviously know that some people unfortunately do have a hard time getting pregnant, and throughout my pregnancy, we were incredibly grateful that we did not. In retrospect, however, I truly think that, until the moment I saw this woman, it was all really abstract. I'm in no way saying that I can even begin to comprehend that type of situation now, by mere virtue of briefly observing this woman. All I'm saying is that seeing that paper she was reading with the long list of instructions and drugs to take, made me concretely and literally see exactly what it is that people sometimes have to endure to try to have a kid, and even then it's not a certainty. That paper, and the expression on the woman's face as she kept reading and rereading the page, oblivious to everything else on that train, quite plainly stunned me. I immediately looked away, feeling incredibly bad that I'd seen this, but also feeling something else that I couldn't yet classify. My stop was next, and as I got off the train, I was still thinking about her. She remained in my thoughts throughout the day, and it was not until I got home from work and took my son from his nanny's arms that I finally realized what it was that I was feeling. And it's not pity, or that I take things for granted, or anything like that: I've always felt wholly grateful for our kid, but this brief incident deepened, in a sense, that feeling. I've been hugging him just a little bit tighter, and for just a few seconds more, since I saw what I did. I can't even tell you how much I hope that this works out for her. It has nothing to do with platitudes like "she's deserving" or "she wants it so badly…" Because the truth is? I don't know who she is, or anything about her. All I know about her is that she wants to have a baby, and it's not going so well for her. What I feel now is, quite simply, a sense of gratitude to her for making me appreciate my situation even more. I know she didn't even realize it, and had no such intention, but its the truth all the same. Wherever she is right now, I thank her, and hope that she gets the good news she's been hoping for very very soon. Happy holidays to you all, whatever you're celebrating.