One evening in Hawaii, Drake and I went to Starbucks with our computer in an effort to get internet access. Unfortunately, this location was not equipped for wireless so we sat outside and wound up looking at pictures of Jud and our family. Both of us began weeping, and the world around us faded out of consciousness.
A woman passing by noticed we were crying while looking at pictures of our kids. She tapped me on the shoulder, making me aware again of my surroundings, and said, “Oh, did you leave those precious kids at home?”
“No, our son died,” I answered without carefully choosing my words.
So taken back by my response, another utterance could not escape her lips and she hurried herself into the coffee shop, not looking back. I also couldn’t help but notice that she exited Starbucks through the opposite door, piping hot cappuccino in hand, in what appeared to be an effort to avoid us.
I admit that my impulsive response to this friendly question may not have been the most tactful reply, but on the other hand, one might have thought I told her we had a contagious disease.
As a grieving parent who speaks candidly about my loss, I am discovering how jarring this can be to others, especially seeing as we live in a culture that doesn’t seem to deal openly with death.