My division at work had a "town hall" meeting this afternoon, preceeded by a "networking" session.
The guest speakers at the town hall were representatives from our company's philanthropic program -- and prior to the meeting, we received an e-mail, which contained this line (edited):
"As a warm up to the presentation, take advantage of the networking session and talk about a recent volunteer experience, or a charity that you support, with your colleagues. "So!! -- Who wants to hear about MY 10 years of volunteering -- with a pregnancy loss support group for bereaved parents -- or just how I wound up doing that??
Those closest to me at work, who were there at the time, knew about the group, of course. There may still be a few around who, if prodded, might remember. But as time went on & people left, fewer and fewer knew the full story behind my vague excuses about "other commitments" when everyone else would go for after-work drinks on Thursdays (party night downtown).
I can remember, once, early on, screwing up my courage to approach my coworkers for pledges for a fundraiser I was participating in to benefit the group. (Lord knows I've chipped in for umpteen Jump Rope for Hearts, danceathons, Relays for Life, etc., for THEIR kids.)
"You're STILL doing that?" one woman said to me with a quizzical look.
It was barely nine months after my daughter's stillbirth. Ummm, yes, we're STILL doing "that." Wonder what she would say if she knew we were STILL doing it, 9 years later too. ; )
Dh encouraged me to go to the networking session this afternoon, to speak up about our work, to be proud of what we did.
I AM proud of what we did in the group. I AM proud of my daughter. I would love nothing more than to be able to speak freely about her, about the amazing courage and strength of the dozens of parents dh & I met over those 10 years.
It's hard. Still. Almost 14 years later. Knowing the likely reaction. Watching the dawning horror in people's eyes.
Volunteering with children, or for breast cancer or at a child's school, or at an animal shelter, or even a women's shelter, is viewed with approval. People want to know more about it.
Dead babies and grieving parents, on the other hand, just aren't as readily acceptable as topics of polite conversation (nevermind in the workplace). Still. It's something that people don't want to hear more about. (If they don't hear about it, they can pretend that it doesn't happen.)(Even if -- odds being what they are -- a sizeable chunk of the people in that room either could have used the group's services at some point in their past, or will need them in the future.)
So... I'm sorry to say -- I chickened out. :( I just couldn't do it. (What probably sealed the deal was being privy to New Grandma Coworker's daily call to her new-mom daughter to get the daily baby report.) I hid in my cubicle as others drifted off to the networking session -- and then joined them just before the actual meeting started a half hour later.
I didn't dwell on the fact that, exactly 14 years ago today, I took a home pregnancy test -- and watched in amazement as two blue lines immediately popped into view. But that was probably a reason too.