I had planned to go back to work two weeks before I actually did, but every time Sunday would roll around I would call and say I needed one more week. I didn’t want to face life. I didn’t want things to just move on. I remember getting up that first morning. Forcing myself to get out of bed when the alarm went off. I got in the shower. I would always put Nash in this sleeper thing right outside the shower when I was in it. If he got fussy, I would pop my head out of the curtain and say boo. He would smile, I would pop my head out of the other side of the curtain and say boo, he would smile again. Now I pulled the curtain back and it was an empty bathroom. When I put on my makeup, I would always prop Nash up against the pillow and face him. He loved watching. He would always look at me with the strangest looks. That morning, I put my makeup on in front of the bathroom mirror. I would occasionally glance at the empty bed and cry. I would always then take Nash to the nursery and get him ready. Now my dogs lay in front of the nursery door and I just peek in and keep walking. I would then put him in his car as I packed his diaper bag, and then I would take him out and feed him a bottle. I always gave myself an extra half hour to do these things. I had unknowingly done this that morning. So I sat on the couch for thirty minutes. No bag to pack, no Nash to feed. Empty car in front of me. I then got in my car and started my drive to work. No car seat to put in. I passed the road where the sitter lives and almost tuned back around and went home. The last time I drove on these roads, I was rushing to the hospital. I walked into my office. The last time I was there, I was running out after the call that changed my life forever. I texted Todd that I was going to quit, this was too hard.
The girls I work with tried to be proactive and sent a letter to my patients telling them that Nash had died. In the letter it said not to talk about it unless I brought it up. I know they did this to protect me, but it ended up making things more difficult. On one hand, I loved that for the most part my patients knew and I didn’t get a bunch of people running in saying, “How is that baby of yours?” But I had no idea if they knew or not, because they were told not to say anything. Anyone who is a hygienist will tell you that you build relationships with your patients. They saw me pregnant, they knew our struggle. Some even brought gifts in once he was born. They heard me say how much I loved him. I had shown them pictures. In some ways, they become a small part of your family. Now they were told to say nothing. I would call them from the waiting room back to my room. Sometimes I could tell right away they knew, other times I couldn’t. Some just came right out and said they were sorry. Others would sit there stone-faced. Some didn’t read the letter and would ask how Nash was doing. Was he crawling yet? Did I have pictures? I would tell them he passed and then we would both cry together. Many patients told me they almost canceled because they felt so uncomfortable. They didn’t know what to say or what not to say. I would have a new patient and think, this will be nice they know nothing. I forgot that one of the first questions they usually ask me is “are you married?” Followed always by “do you have children?” I still stumble on how to answer that question. I usually say something along the lines of, “I have a son in heaven,” in which they always apologize that they asked and the rest of the hour is silent. Some of the ones I’m very close to come in with their have a “Nash” day bracelets and tell me they have read every blog. Some were even at his funeral. Some sent cards. Work is by far the hardest thing for me since Nash passed. Every hour I can feel this pit in my stomach as I call the next patient back. Their first question has always been the very common “how are you doing?” to which I answer okay instead of my bubbly “I’m doing great, you?” Then I bring them back to the room and try and guess whether or not they know. I finally get comfortable, usually because I have discussed it a little bit, but then it starts all over again with the next patient.
I am able to put on a fake smile through most of the day, which I think sends a false message to my coworkers. They tell me I’m doing amazing, and really I want them to say, “You have done enough for today just go home.” Obviously they can’t do that and I would not be able to pay my bills if they did, but it would be nice. Sometimes when I do have a moment where I get upset and start crying, it shocks them because I have been seemingly fine all day. One time Melissa asked, “What’s wrong? What happened?” A normal question when someone is crying. For me what people don’t understand is that nothing has to happen. I’m just having a moment where I realize he is not waiting for me at home. He is not waiting for Todd to pick him up from the sitter. He is in an urn on my dresser. One day it hit me so hard that I asked if a sub would finish out the other half of my day for me. They called the sub and she couldn’t. I almost left anyway and risked being fired. Instead I cried through my last four patients and went home and passed out from being so emotionally exhausted. As time has gone on, I have most definitely gotten better at handling it. It’s still a fight everyday but I don’t break down as much as I did the first couple of days. Many family and friends have said to me that it must be horrible to put those scrubs back on and make that drive to work every day. Or they will tell me that work will help me. It will keep my mind busy. They have no idea how my whole morning ritual has changed. I wish it was just the drive or what I’m wearing. I feel his absence from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep at night. That my job requires talking to people who care about me all day long. Some that know and some that don’t. For the next six months at least, I will be informing people of his passing or explaining what happened. These people care about me, they want to say they are sorry and they want to give me a hug. I want them to feel comfortable doing that. My coworkers have spent time with Nash and they have heard me talk about him everyday for five months. They have seen that Nash smile. In some ways it’s nice to have so many people who care. I feel fortunate to have so many people that pray for us on a daily basis. So many people who share in our heartbreak. In other ways it’s hard. Either they are grieving his loss as well, or they are grieving for us. I’m not the bubbly person I once was and people see that. I see that in myself. I’m still trying to find my new normal.