I had a meltdown at work the other day. It was a really rough Easter weekend – Easter was earlier than last year, but this time last year Grace was already with us, this was the weekend we had told my folks and my husband’s folks that we were expecting and then one week later my MIL died. When it came to work on Tuesday I just wasn’t up to trying to teach 4th year students (a number of whom had watched Grace and I grow because they took my Labour Economics course last year … a standing joke was that I would say – “I’m going into Labour” just before my lecture to my colleagues and they would look at me slightly panicked before realising that I was talking about a class, not giving birth… but I digress).
I was going over my notes before the lecture when the injustice of it all suddenly overwhelmed me. I’m teaching other people’s kids, preparing them for their future. Grace’s future was severed before she was even born, right on the cusp of her first breath.
I’ve always had real problem with the ‘future’ because, to quote a famous economist: ‘In the long-run we’re all dead.’ That’s the bottom line really. To want life requires an acceptance, even an embracing, of death. Yet every fiber that is my being wants to revolt, rebel against and resist death. One would think that by now I would have learnt my lesson, and that I wouldn't respond with such disbelief and indignance to death's inevitable assault. One would think.
Anyhow. I ended up in the Dean’s office, bawling my eyes out while he watched and waited patiently for me to catch my breath. When I did, we sat in silence because both of us are better listeners than talkers. Eventually he asked two very brave questions, ones which most people have stopped asking because they can't provide me with the answers I still want so desperately to hear.
"Is there anything you need? What can I do to help?"
"I need my daughter back, please, you can help find a way to bring her back!" This is what I screamed in my head. But I kept silent.
He then offered to teach my class, an offer which I gratefully accepted. It was the best that he could do. And continuing to muddle on through this, for now most times worse than others, is the best that I can do.