Mae Bae is sick now (we'll be watching her like hawks) and I find myself preoccupied with a moment that happened a couple of weeks ago while we were grocery shopping, going back to that day over and over again in my head and running it over in my mind.
Sadie and I were looking for a pumpkin. It didn't take her long to find the largest, most spectacular pumpkin in the store. We have tickets to a corn maze that I hope has a pumpkin patch, that I bought for a steal on groupon a few weeks ago, but when I saw the $2-$3 pumpkins I promised Sadie that she could pick one out the next weekend and the big day had finally arrived. Mae and Paul were on the other side of the produce section getting apples and bananas, the two staples that help Mae get through the day (the kid takes her apple and then mugs her sister and takes hers as well...) and as I eyed the pumpkin I told her that we would wait until Daddy brought over the cart and have him lift the pumpkin into it.
Two men stood nearby, off to our left. One was in an electronic cart, who looked to be around 50-60 and the other looked to be in his late twenties.
You know those moments when your Mommy sensor goes off and you sense danger? This was one of those moments. They were in my peripheral vision. I couldn't quite see them clearly. But suddenly I found myself clutching Sadie's hand, with a distinct Mommy-alarm going off in my head. I had the distinct impression that they were watching us and listening to our pumpkin-centered conversation. They moved towards us and the Mommy alarm grew louder. Sadie and I continued to chat about the pumpkins (there were two large bins on either side, and the opposite side of our bin was open) and I tried to focus my attention on her as I pointed out pumpkins that Mae might like.
Suddenly they were standing behind us, too close and two thoughts presented themselves together in my mind. Is this a cultural thing where coming up and standing an inch away from another person isn't seen as an invasion of personal space? The younger man was right next to me, while the older one's cart was inches from Sadie... Different cultures have different ideas of personal space and I did have the distinct impression that these men weren't American.
Or was this some sort of macho, intimidation tactic? They had us hemmed in against the pumpkins, with the cart and their bodies and we could hardly move away now. My annoyance grew as the instinctive feeling had me leaning towards intimidation and also because, with my body turned towards Sadie, I had the distinct impression that their attention was on her as I pulled her as close to my side as I could and glanced around looking for Paul, who was still obliviously picking out apples, the top of his head barely visible through the aisles of fruit and veggies. Usually men from more traditional culture's are pretty deferential to me since I do wear long dresses, so that idea was somewhat different from what I've found to be the norm... but I supposed that could be it...
Then the coughing started. The man in the cart bent towards us and started to cough loudly, on us. There was no way it could be unintentional. It was a horrible sick sounding cough and he was clearly coughing at Sadie.
That was it. I grabbed Sadie and pulled her away, while scooping up her pumpkin with my other arm (funny how that seemed important at the time, right? But I knew she had her little heart set on it and for a moment I wondered if this was some aggressive pumpkin picking strategy) and I carried the huge pumpkin on my hip, while managing to squeeze through a tiny opening, guiding Sadie away from the two men.
When I got to Paul I was shaken up, but I couldn't very well explain what had happened right there, although he had a sense that I was very upset with the pair. I put the pumpkin in the cart and Paul picked out a pumpkin for Mae. I watched the two men lingering by the gourds, acting like a perfectly normal pair. They gave us a wide berth with Paul.
I felt a little paranoid as I explained to Paul and later to my Mom on the phone what had happened. It just seemed so odd at the time. I thought about writing a blog post about it... but any post I wrote sounded a little crazy and paranoid in my head... maybe because the two men did come from a culture we associate with various acts of terror (although I didn't know that until after we were a good ways away and looked back, because they were so close to my back that I couldn't see their faces)... It all felt so stereotypical and I just didn't feel like I was doing a good job putting it into words, and so I didn't.
But it was already out of my mind with all the planning and getting ready when I was rushed to the hospital roughly a week later. I didn't think of it as doctor's puzzled over how I could have been exposed to whatever this horrible sickness was, asking if the girls were in preschool or around other kids (because of the pregnancy and my pregnancy soreness we've hardly left the house all month).
Then last night I sat pinning a blanket, and the pumpkin caught my eye, sitting proudly in it's corner by the door. The entire scene came back to me as I glanced at the pumpkins and felt the ache in my severely black and blue arms from all the needles and IVs, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was entirely intentional. It has seemed intentional at the time, in a crazy, what's wrong with these guys, type of way.
I suppose I'll never know. But I think I'll add them as a prayer intention. Something was going on that day that wasn't right... and I pray it wasn't anything as sinister as trying to get a little girl very, very sick... but honestly, the way he moved as close as he could to us and began coughing on us it's hard to imagine a positive motivation.
People do crazy things... I pray for there sakes that somehow it wasn't intentional in the least... and that it had nothing to do with whatever sent me to the hospital for four nights...