For some reason, my company is suddenly taking an interest in its employees. Rightfully so, I’m skeptical and scared. Corporate America wants nothing more than to see its workers suffer. It’s called Management. Ask anyone.
On Wednesday, it was the falalala “What are your personal goals?” bologna. Now, they’re offering free fitness classes in the cafeteria. My guess is that they are hoping some of the older, out-of-shape people will go into cardiac arrest, therefore removing the need to fire or lay off people.
Initially, I had decided I wasn’t going to take the free class. I have the coordination of a 13-year-old boy at a school dance, so I prefer to exercise in private. Besides, who wants to see their hairy co-workers sweating in their white t-shirts? Not I. But public marriage Judy guilted me into it, so I sucked it up.
I jumped and stretched and hopped and then...then I had a flashback—to the last time I took an exercise class. It was 2006. It was called Bootcamp Aerobics. A retired Army guy was teaching it in downtown Mulletville. I’d signed up on a whim. And even though I was in the middle of having a miscarriage, I went anyway.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but the Army guy had checked on me so many times during the class, I had thought he liked me. He asked me how I was doing. I said FINE. He told me to do fewer reps if I needed to. I said NO. What he didn’t tell me was that Chuck had gone up to him before the class and told him about my predicament. He must have thought I was crazy. Or maybe he admired my masochistic tendencies?
Chuck had thought I was crazy, that’s for sure. He couldn’t understand why I—someone whose idea of exercising is bringing groceries in from the car—would chose to do bootcamp aerobics during a miscarriage. But as I kicked my way through the free class this afternoon, I suddenly understood why. At the time, I had been so overcome with grief that I had needed the outlet of physical pain. Or maybe I needed to add pain to the pain I was experiencing. You know, bring myself to the brink? Since I don’t smash windows with my fists, push-ups on my knuckles sufficed.
I had thought that I had put the miscarriage behind me. But there I was today, thinking about it. I thought about how I’d known from the beginning that something was wrong with the pregnancy. How the doctor who had done the ultrasound was the husband of someone with whom I work. I thought about how he tried to make me laugh with corny jokes. How he handed me a box of tissues when he told me there was no heartbeat and told me to cry if I needed to. How he was surprised that I didn’t.
(Unfortunately, all I could imagine was him going home to tell his wife: “I met Mrs. Mullet today. Don’t say anything but...”)
The thing is, I didn’t just think about all of that today; I allowed myself to feel the grief, to acknowledge the loss.
Then I thought about Junior and how I wouldn’t have him if I’d had that first baby. And then I thought about how Chuck and I have been talking about having another baby and how, without my permission, the thoughts of miscarriage have crept into my thoughts. Is it possible to miss a baby you never knew? Is it the possibilities I miss? The opportunity to parent, knowing how sincere my intentions and how big my heart?
Lorrie Moore, in her novel Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? wrote one of my all-time favorite lines (and I’m not just saying that because her novel has the word “frog” in the title). She wrote, “It is unacceptable, all the stunned and anxious missing a person is asked to endure in life. It is not to be endured, not really.”
Life certainly doles out its hardships along with its blessings. No matter where you are, I hope you take a minute, right now, like I did today, to acknowledge your strength to persevere. You’re doing a great job.
I fucking promise.