Grief Girl gets plane tickets

January 9, 2009

I’m going to a conference in a few weeks, the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Conference.  I have registered, and have hotel reservations, and am chairing an ALA committee for the first time, which will look nice on next year’s annual review.  I usually enjoy these things.  I enjoy the committee work and am fairly good at it.  And, if you have to spend time going to meetings and hanging out with people for business purposes, librarians are a decent bunch.  Most of the meetings and discussion sessions are interesting (well, if you’re a librarian), and there are lots of free galleys to read on the plane ride home.

Going to this conference is a way to prove to myself that I can function normally, that life is not over, that I’m doing okay (in the sense of my new okay, which doesn’t mean what it used to).  I’ve talked myself into it because I want to get back on my work horse, to attempt to be me again.  But I haven’t bought plane tickets yet.

This will be the conference I wanted to miss, the one I wanted to pass on because I would be home playing with Teddy, because I’d be busy doing new mom things.  I still do new mom things, of course, but most of those things seem to involve crying, missing my baby, and trying to work through grief.  Which means, like so many other things, this conference is going to be more laden with emotion than I’d really like it to be.  Being professional is difficult enough at work right now – to play that part for three days, preceded and followed by air travel, spending that much time away from N, the person who props me up on a daily basis – is there a pill for that?

I asked a co-worker friend if I should let the members of my committees know about Teddy’s death, and she said not to, that chances were they’d forgotten I was pregnant (even though I missed last summer’s Annual conference because of it) and hopefully it wouldn’t come up.  I’m still slightly angry about this.  I know people can no longer read the grief written on me unless I let them – it just looks like I’ve gained weight and gone to seed a bit.  But Grief Girl is such a part of me that the notion of others not knowing, not seeing her, sometimes hurts.  And there’s my conflict, because sometimes it’s easier when people don’t know or ask, when I don’t have to talk about it, when I can just get work done without baring my wounds, when Grief Girl has a secret identity.

At my last midwinter conference, having just found out I was pregnant, I went to a discussion group on balancing work and family, thinking that soon I’d need all the skills and advice on the subject that I could get.  There are, not surprisingly, no discussion groups about how to balance work and baby loss, work and grief.  And maybe there shouldn’t be.  Most of the time I don’t want my work life and the rest of my life to tangle up with, to bleed into each other any more than they have to.  But I carry it with me to work every day, this loss, and it’s therefore a part of what I do no matter how I try to hide it.  Grief Girl comes to work every day that I do, and she’ll come to the conference with me, too.

Which is why I’ve put off finalizing my attendence by purchasing plane tickets, but enough of that.  Grief Girl and I are buying them today.  She wants a window seat.



  1. If you run a conference for libarians about baby loss, I promise that I will attend, no matter where in the world it is held (might I recommend said conference be held on Christmas day and in Vulgaria [obscure reference to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang]).

    Keep me posted.

  2. There’s always a secret we carry everywhere with us, whether it’s by our choice or the choice put upon us… Strangest experience ever.

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