Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Answering the question "How are you doing?"

It's funny how you know even before you've rolled out of bed or opened your eyes in the morning, that it's going to be a ______ sort of day. I knew this morning was going to be a difficult day. Didn't know why, but just had that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I guess I was standing in the shoreline of grief before I even realized my feet were wet and that there was water up to my ankles.

The tide came in quickly and before breakfast was over, I was yelling at the children for reasons only I knew. I finally admitted to myself what it was. I was dreading going through Matt's clothes. Yet I knew it was necessary. Aunt Patty is going to make a quilt with his shirts. I know there will be healing when I see the finished quilt hanging on the wall. And the quicker it gets done, the sooner it'll feel, in a small way, that Matt is still here with us.

My yelling at the children was only my grief manifesting itself. Sad to say, it didn't get much better after breakfast, either. I went to get milk from our usual store. I hadn't been there since before the accident. Now, getting milk isn't that big of a deal usually, and we typically get milk every other day. But getting milk that often pretty much ensures you're going to get to know the cashiers. It's also something I did a lot with Matt. Especially last year when I would pick him up every day from school. We would stop and get milk on the way home and he would always carry it for me. Mary, the cashier, saw us frequently. Wouldn't ya know, Mary was at the store today when I stopped. I was so praying she wasn't going to be there.

I was barely keeping it together as it was when I pulled into the gas station, but by the time I made it to the check out, I was teetering on the edge of emotional collapse. All it took was Mary's question "You're all alone?" to throw me off the edge. I knew what she really meant was "Where's your sidekick, the one with the muscles?" Then her co-worker, also a familiar face, asked, "So are all the kids at school?" The dam broke and the tears water came pouring out. I told her the news and then said I was sorry for losing it and made my exit.

I had hoped by the time I returned home I would be able to pull it together, but that damn ocean current was too strong. I decided that maybe taking all of Matt's stuff off of the mantle, where it had been the last 5 1/2wks., might be easier than going through his clothes. Unfortunately, it turned out it wasn't. In fact, taking each item off and putting it in a box was the most painful thing yet. I kept thinking, "I shouldn't have to be doing this!", "I can't do this.", "I can't make it through the day.", "How am I going to survive?", "Is this all there is? Just a few things in a box?", "Is this all there is to show at the end of a person's life is stuff they leave behind?", and "Is there never any end to tears?"

I finally gave in to the overpowering waves of grief and sank onto the couch crying. I was so glad to have my mom there. She did what any wise person does when comforting the grief stricken...She rubbed my back and didn't say anything. :) Thankfully, the tide receded and I managed to get my footing. We finished up with the mantle and set about getting lunch ready. After lunch, I decided I was up to going through Matt's clothes. Ironically, it wasn't nearly as hard.

We finished up with the clothes and then went outside. Shortly thereafter, a neighbor stopped by with her grandkids. I usually look forward to visiting with the neighbors, but today wasn't a good day. She immediately asked me, "How are you doing?" Seriously, I just don't know how to answer that. How am I supposed to answer that? I will never fathom what an adequate response is. I know one thing for sure...I sure hope I never ask a grieving person "How are you doing?" It is far better, in my opinion, to ask instead, "Is this a bad day or a good day?" or "Is this a good moment or a bad one?"

1 comment:

  1. Thank you once again for being so honest... Praying for you... So glad to know that when the Lord brings you to mind there is a reason... He loves you with an everlasting love... love you... m