You know that feeling you get when you walk into a room and everyone in it gets kinda quiet and looks at you? And you kinda shrink down a little and you cast a glance over your shoulder and you hope that everyone is looking at or averting their glances from someone else who just happened to walk in behind you but then you realize that nope, it's just you?
Yeah, that's me.
Real or imagined, I often feel that when I walk into a room of people who know me.
Or rather, people who know Hazel.
And there I am, with Hazel, my elephant. The elephant that everyone knows is there, but no one really knows how to address.
Do we ask? Is it better if we don't ask?
Then there's the pause until someone plunges ahead and asks the question that is hanging in the air, billowing around me and my elephant:
Then, the tables turn and I glance at the faces turned toward me. I have to weigh the question before I answer.
Are they asking because they feel that they should ask? Or do they really want to know? Is a pat answer of 'she's doing well' enough? Or do I owe the questioner's sincerity a fuller answer? Do they want to know that she's beautiful and weighs 4 pounds and 4 ounces (yes she really does!) but that her lungs are still horrible and we are preparing ourselves to hear the word tracheostomy more and more in the next couple months?
The truth is, that I never know what to say. It's hard to explain to anyone in 20 words or less 'how is Hazel' because she is so complex...exciting and heart-wrenching at the same time. And while I don't want to bore anyone with her particulars, I feel like it makes a liar of me to just say 'she's growing and doing well' because even though she is doing just that, growing and doing well, she's not. She has chronic lung disease and her little lungs are a tortured mess. It is unlikely that she will be off the ventilator or coming home any time soon.
But who really wants to hear that again and again?
So, I wrap my arm around my elephant and own her for what she is
part of my beautiful mess.
And I love it when you ask, but it's also ok if you don't. I love to talk about my little elephant, but I am not at all offended if you don't have time to listen.
You can even just say 'Say Hi to Hazel for me. I bet she's beautiful!'
And I will say 'Yes, yes she is'
and my elephant will smile
and we will both know that you care.