Monday, November 8, 2010

Really? Just... Really?

I thought I was doing okay, I really did. Then Fran called. Fran is a patient who I’ve had a more involved relationship with due to frequent calls for various issues, and a way of subtly forcing me to talk to her for long periods of time about my life. She used to jokingly say that if she were 50 years younger she could have had me at the snap of her fingers, and that she had legs like Betty Grable, whoever that was. We had a pretty good patient/customer service rep relationship.

I knew it would eventually come, but I was dreading (or looking forward to?) this call. Would I tell her what happened? Would I just gloss over it and hope she didn’t ask? We knew each other well enough that I was sure she would want to know why I had been gone for nearly two months, but it wasn't until the call actually came that I knew I was going to tell her about my son.

She knew something was off with me from the first hello, so I guess I can give her credit for that. At first she assumed I was fighting with my wife, and suggested I just apologize and get on with the make-up sex. I told her my relationship with my wife was fine, and that it was just other things bother me, and asked whether she was really interested. She said she was, and so I told her, in summary, what had happened to Aiden.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this person that I’ve never met before, but it wasn’t the very bland, very disconnected “… and?” that I received. I was shocked into silence. She went on to tell me that life goes on, and it’s all water under the bridge, and you can’t cry over spilled milk, and so many other platitudes that you’ve never heard associated with this type of tragic event. I felt like my loss was just a trivial thing to be swept under the rug and not thought about twice, and that brought back that cold fury that I haven't felt in awhile.

I calmly ignored everything else she had to say, said polite nothings, and hung up the phone. But inside I was seething, and upset.

I almost blame myself for even bringing it up to her. I don’t know her personally, and she doesn’t know me. We’re just voices over a phone line. Why was I foolish enough to expect that she would care one iota about anything that had happened to my son? Why did I build up this phone call in my mind? Maybe I always thought of her as a motherly type, and I assumed she would be just as heartbroken as my own mom…

Now that I think about it, I think I actually felt entitled to her sympathy. I think I’ve only got room to expect that one type of response to the death of my son. And I don’t think I’m wrong. I think I really am entitled. I think all of us in this shitty club are entitled to people actually caring, or even just appearing to care, about our lost sons and daughters. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to, we deserve comforting and kind words and nothing less. Anything less is an insult to our children.

In all likelihood I will never speak to Fran of anything substantial ever again. I have half a mind to just hang up whenever I hear her voice on the other end of the line, and I don't think anyone can really fault me for doing it. I guess I've learned that you can never expect people to react the way you think they should. You can only wait for them to show their cards and hope to be pleasantly surprised.


Angie said...

I may never understand why some people say the things they do. Or why they feel entitled to dismiss our son's death as a minor loss. But I've learned to forget those people, just as easily as they would like us to forget we've lost our son. If they don't really care about us then they clearly do not deserve a second thought from us.

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