To the Woman in the Grocery Store Who Noticed What Was Special About My Baby


I was ready for a big outing. It had been six weeks since you were born, and I was finally cleared for driving. Heading to the grocery store seemed like just the ticket. I planned our excursion for a time when I thought there wouldn’t be many people. I didn’t think I was ready for people to see you. I was learning a lot, but you and your diagnosis were so new. I was proud of you and so excited you were finally here, but the news of your diagnosis surprised and terrified me.

I don’t think I’d taken ten steps into the produce department when I saw a small, kind-looking white-haired woman making what could only be called a beeline for us — or more precisely, you. I steeled myself. What would she do when she saw you? Would she be horrified? Would she look at me with pity? No matter what, I knew I’d be crying in the next two minutes.

The time it took her to reach us was probably all of 20 seconds, and the whole time I was thinking, “The doctor told me I was going to have to learn to be an advocate for you. So, here we go.” When she arrived cart-side, my hands were sweaty and my heart was thumping. I think the physiological term is “fight or flight response.”

She gave me the quick obligatory smile before turning her gaze to you, the true object of her desire. She looked for several seconds. Then, she raised her head and looked right into my eyes. Her face showed everything she was thinking. This was it. And with blue eyes shining, she said, “You have a beautiful baby!” Our Lady of the Produce had beaten my estimate; I was crying in under two minutes. I looked from her beaming face down at you, knowing beyond a doubt, that she was right.

2013 07 Conor Motor Boat

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