At the Pharmacy

Last night, I had to go to the pharmacy. I’d been avoiding all places where I was likely to run into people who might ask questions or offer congratulations, and the pharmacy was one of such places. The doctor gave me a prescription for new contraceptive pills, so I couldn’t keep hiding at home any longer. Of course, I could have changed my pharmacy. But that would lead to changing the grocery store, the coffee-shop, the convenience store, the favorite restaurant, the walking route. . . and that way lies insanity.

The pharmacist was on the phone when I approached the counter. She reached into the box with my name (in the course of this pregnancy, I had been assigned a box all to myself at the pharmacy) and got out the pills.

“Wait, this must be a mistake,” the pharmacist said. “These can’t be yours.”

“Yes, they are mine,” I responded.

The pharmacist tried to peer over the tall counter.

“Wait, have you given birth already?” she asked eagerly.

So I told her.

She dropped the phone and stared at me. Then her face crumpled and she grabbed me across the counter and pressed me to her chest.

“This happened to me, too,” the pharmacist sobbed. “It’s been almost 30 years but it never goes away.”

As I walked away, I heard her sobbing and wheezing.

7 thoughts on “At the Pharmacy

  1. Was this a good experience or a harrowing experience? Or something else?
    I found, the first Christmas after my husband died, that grocery shopping was an excruciating chore, because of the cheerful Christmas songs that were always playing, reminding me that Christmas would never be the same again. I heard from other widows that they found this difficult, too. It doesn’t bother me now, but when I am shopping at Christmas, I look around at the other shoppers, and wonder which of them are hurting and doing their best not to show it.


    1. In the moment, I felt like I detached from everything and was observing the scene from the margins. But today all I’m doing is crying and sleeping all day long.

      This is a very difficult week.


  2. I imagine that — among other terrible things — that having to share this news over and over again is just gut wrenching. I’m sorry. 😦


  3. My mother experienced this,too,as did one of my aunts.The cultural attitude then was to get over it and move on. They had no emotional support.


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