I believe the energy you send into the world – positive and negative – gets stored in a cosmic karma account, a spiritual rainy day fund. I also believe in rainy days of biblical proportions, so it’s worthwhile to stockpile positive energy to survive impossible times.
I’ve been working to restore my account for the past three years. It’s been overdrawn since Liam died. I must be living on donations because I know I hadn’t banked away that much positive goodness. Before Liam, I was a jerk and I know the sting of having that come back to bite me in the ass at my most vulnerable.
I remember the day I went to the hospital for Liam’s autopsy report. It was about one week after my discharge. I was still hobbled by sore hips and torn leg muscles, and my face was swollen like the Elephant Man from crying and lack of sleep. I arrived at the Medical Records department just as a woman was unlocking the door. She rolled her eyes and exhaled when she saw me approach, and let the door close in my face. Lucky me, she was the one sitting behind the counter who would handle my request.
I’d had to explain my situation many times in that one week, but the words still sounded impossible: My baby had died. Right in the hospital where we spoke. I came for a copy of the autopsy. Yes, I had identification and the proper paperwork.
She didn’t look at me as she took notes or when she held out her hand for the papers. A tear fell off my chin onto one of her blue nails.
“I’m so sorry,” I apologized. “Really, I am. I don’t think I have a tissue…”
I was horrified that I’d gone through my tissue pack so early in the morning. I was stunned when she looked at me like I’d spat on her hand, wiped with a tissue and never offered one. She took my ID, papers and the cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee I’d interrupted, and disappeared into a back room. After five silent minutes, I sat and waited.
I’m not the self-flagellating type who believes I deserved that callousness in retribution for a past wrong. However, I do know the things that were clear to me as I sat there: I was broken and needy. I was dependent upon others to keep me from falling apart, sometimes strangers who were under no obligation to help me. Sitting in that office, I was just a part of another person’s work day. What happened to me was my trauma, no one else’s. And I knew there had been times in the past when I was too consumed with my morning coffee or daily routine to be generous to someone else. It would have been a bother, like I was to that woman.
• • •
I view my life since 2008 as before-Liam and after-it-happened. In my after-life, I met a yoga teacher in Cape Cod who told me, “Strive to be extra kind. You never know what private battle someone’s fighting when you meet them.” The before-Liam me would have thought that crunchy granola, hippy-dippy, feel-good nonsense, but I’m not that woman. I never can be again. I’m not as kind as I can be all the time, but I try because I know how something that costs me nothing to give can mean everything to someone in need.