Saturday, January 29, 2011

"how are you?"

Cartoon by Cathy Thorne
I love this cartoon, because it captures a situation that is all too much part of my current reality. When people ask this question, do they really want the answer? I know that people truly are concerned--about me, about the kids--and sincerely do want to know how we are doing. But most of the time, I am stumped for what to say. So I just say, "OK." I can't really come out with "Fine," or certainly not "Great!"

It's been five months now since Our Devastating Loss. The shock has worn off, and we are in a new phase--reality hits, and it hits hard. My feelings are complicated, of course, by the emotional impact of the three-year separation that preceded this tragedy. Sometimes I feel as if I'm going through the split all over again--and others I feel as if it never happened. Not sure which is worse--it's all mixed up with the incredible love I have for our children, the crushing weight of being their sole surviving parent, and the daunting task of shepherding them through these fields while dealing with my own healing process.

I have found myself taken over by grief at odd moments--on the subway, in the ladies' room of an Irish pub in Washington, DC, during yoga class. According to friends who have been through similar situations, this is par for the course. And it's unclear how long it will go on--being sideswiped and swept into a crying jag, right there in public. It's terribly inconvenient, and extremely undignified. But it is what it is.

So, dear readers, please don't worry about us. We are OK, and we have a lot of support. But yes, I do need help, and I don't always feel comfortable asking. In the immediate wake of loss, helpers are everywhere, but after a little while, everyone moves on--or maybe just thinks of us, wishing there was something they could do. There is! Help clean my house (please). Play games with Stella while I make supper or grade my online classes. Play Wii or XBox games with Bobby (I'm just not a gamer). Stay with the kids for an hour or two so I can do laundry, take a run, or go outside to make some private phoe calls. Take them to the movies, bowling, something fun that I may not have the energy for. Hang out with me some evening while I put the kids to bed, and have a glass of wine (or two) with me after they're asleep.

Or just tell me I'm doing a good job keeping this all together (even if I'm really not). Don't ever think you are bothering me--I appreciate your concern, and I know it comes from a good place. I wish I had better news to report, but it will improve, I know,  all in good time...