She walked in, I think, late. At the least, she walked in after her friends were sitting down. She had a harried look I know, a meeting running late, deadlines, demands. There was the mother with the new babe, on maternity leave, her pregnant friend, another mother, and she came in - not flying, let's call it urgent.
A grey suit, stunning heels that were a thoughtful and explosive punch of colour, styled hair, manicured hands. A warrior like me, who does not quite have the luxury of laziness in looks. How we dress still matters, still affects how we are treated, it is part of our image, the bedrock of our armor.
I watched her, this woman that is so often me. I watched her greet the mother, hand over the gift, talk to the little boy, the other mother, the pregnant woman. I watched her look at her watch. I felt the stirrings of almost anger in me. It seemed I looked, I perceived, I understood. A kinship, that I at least, felt.
I watched her pick up the baby, hold it. And she was practiced, she knew what to do, the crooning, the movement, the smiles. Holding focus. I could see other customers looking at this odd group, wondering. The food, the table, well, this place is not family dining.
And in the middle of this, such is the power, the draw of mother and child. A woman in a suit and nice heels does not quite match. Hours later, I find myself angry on her behalf, on mine, that we the well dressed ones do not quite measure up, apathetic clothes and dingy shoes are somehow a mark of honour.
And I watched her, and I almost saw myself. The only suit at the table - in the room. The woman with the high heels, wearing make up. A clean and co-ordinated outfit. The woman who, gasp, got a full night's sleep last night. Who slept in last Saturday. An achiever whose announcements, news, promise, promotion, success, fall flat compared to a baby that rolled over.
Perhaps not an interloper, but surely a guest, at a club. There on sufferance, present, but with sanctions. Held back by those silly ropes and stanchions - a discreet sign that says "members only". I watched her, me, the others. I watched and I remembered. More than memory, cogitation. Not then, but also now. Perhaps, perhaps is what was so singular, so unique, so poignant about my pregnancy with Gabe -
I was, for a few moments, part of the club. If you asked what I grieved in Gabe's death, oh, the answer is so many things. But, somewhere, somewhere in all of this, is live memory, that I am no longer part of the club.