Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Stranger's Unseen Wounds

I have a boss who likes practical jokes. He likes doing small things that bother people to tease them. I am usually very good about playing along and not taking his jokes personally. They aren't meant to really hurt; and usually they are funny. Except one time.

When we lost RG, I had just started a new job. I had not yet accrued any vacation or sick time, and I was trying to make a good impression. So when he died, I did not take any time off of work at all. In hindsight I probably should have just explained the situation and taken some time for myself. I'm not sure which scenario would have been better.

About three days after he was gone, I was at work, sitting at my desk, trying to focus on my work (really, I was just trying not to cry most of the day). My boss came by my desk, and, seeing that I was focused intently upon something, he slapped his hand on my desk really hard, making a very loud noise. Of course, I jumped out of my seat, and tried my best to laugh it off as he walked away. But then I went into the bathroom and cried. It left a great impression upon me.

I have read that, post-miscarriage, women can have symptoms of PTSD, including sensitivity to sound and the tendency to be easily startled. I don't fault him for playing a joke on me; he couldn't have known that I had just been through a seriously traumatic event. But I wish I could tell him that you never know what someone's story is. You never know what she might have just endured. You never know when it might take someone her utmost effort to just show up that day.

Aside from the spiritual fruits of this cross, this is probably the most practical of the lessons I have learned from this experience: empathy for the stranger's unseen wounds.

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