“Guys, here’s another good news,” Miss E, our team leader announced excitedly at the team meeting, “it is possible that we’re going to receive a bonus.” A chorus of giddy chatter filled the boardroom. It died a sudden death when Miss E started to expound on said good news.
After discussing the details of the possible bonus – the fact that it is not yet definite considerably dampened the joy of the team – Miss E visibly sighed, smiled grudgingly and spoke. “Lastly, on our list of good news,” the word ‘lastly’ was emphasized, thus, upping the suspense everyone felt, “we will be welcoming a new member to our team.” The aura in the boardroom crackled with excitement. I shifted my stance and stood straight (there was not enough chair inside the boardroom), eager to know who’s going to be the new team member. I actually glanced at the door, expecting that the new member will burst through that door and grandly announce himself.
“Let’s welcome…” Miss E seized my attention away from the door as she took a deep breath and once again, forced herself to smile. “Mel’s baby.”
The excitement was extinguished and the boardroom became so silent that the veracity of the frequently used “you could have heard a pin drop” during situations such as that was valid.
For a second and every nanosecond that passed after that, “Who’s Mel?” was the question that reverberated in my brain.
Then, as the next second ticked, it registered to me that Mel is a twenty-year-old beauty who has just finished school and was just beginning to build the foundation of a bright career ahead of her. That Mel is a dear and close friend who surpassed the usual corporate relationship that I establish with my co-workers. That Mel is a sweet, young lady in whom I still saw traces of delightful childlike innocence. That Mel is the name of the girl who was sitting beside me, looking so forlorn with eyes bright with tears. That Mel is you.
The small sob that escaped your lips and echoed in the silence of the boardroom launched almost everyone in the team to shatter the reigning quietness and offer you consolation and encouragement. Yes, almost everyone, because I found that my mouth has gone dry, I was imperceptibly shivering and that my brain was stuck in processing that you’re going to be a mother. How, then, was I to formulate and say encouraging words to you?
I looked at you and I didn’t actually know what to feel. It was quite a bomb that Miss E dropped and it really shocked the living daylights out of me. I just turned to your long unfettered hair and repeatedly stroked it. I don’t know why I did it. Maybe it was to offer you the solace that I have wanted to offer you earlier in the form of words because your tears just didn’t have a way of stopping its course down your young beautiful face. Or perhaps, it was to give me something to hold on to and give me a feeling that would pacify the numbness that was making my knees weak at that moment.
Before the meeting was adjourned, Miss E asked you if you have anything to say to the team. You nodded and then tried to make yourself presentable. Your attempt still left your eyes and nose red and your face blotchy but you still look beautiful even after crying. There was still a moment of silence before you spoke. You apologized for not telling us sooner. There was a long pause. You thanked the team for being trusting and understanding, and once again, gravity took care of the tears you were so desperately trying to keep from falling.
We were one of the last few in our team to walk out of the boardroom. It didn’t escape me that the Mel walking out of that room is no longer the same Mel I have known for a short span of eight months. The knowledge that you’re carrying another life made the difference. You’re younger than me and in four month’s time, you’re going to know what it’s like to care for a child of your own. The thought just blows me away. It’s so surreal.
I don’t know why I am so much rattled with this good news. I don’t even know why I’m acting this way. Am I overreacting? If I am, I don’t care. I know it will eventually sink in to me and this surreal moment will go away anyway, just not now. Just not now.