If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how I’m doing and then immediately followed up with an awkward “I mean given the circumstances” I could treat myself to a pretty fancy five-course meal somewhere at this point. And I get it, it’s a normal question to ask when you see someone until it hits you what is actually going on in that person’s life so you immediately start backtracking. I’m asking you to stop backtracking. If it’s just a question out of courteousy then ask it and accept my “I’m fine” as a response and let’s move away from the giant elephant in the room. If you truly want to know, then ask and be prepared to follow my “I’m fine” with an “okay, but how are you really doing?” And maybe then I’ll tell you.
But I might not. I could have a tree branch sticking out of my abdomen and I’m still probably going to tell you that I’m fine. Because I am. I’m not GOOD but I’m not writhing around on the floor from the emotional and physical pain of it all either. I’m fine and I’m okay. That doesn’t mean I’m not hurting and that I don’t wish my life could go back to the way it was on September 8th (even though things were pretty hard then, too). It just means that being as how I’m still walking around on this earth, I’m trying to make the best of an excruciating situation.
I haven’t completely written myself off yet and I’m not entirely useless. Some days are still significantly better than others. And it will continue to be that way indefinitely. I may play the widow card to get out of certain situations…but let’s be honest, if not for that I would have found a different excuse. But please keep trying. It’s painful to see the look of pity (okay, I guess you can call it sympathy if you want) in people’s eyes when I walk into a room and I can feel the change in the atmosphere. The grieving widow has arrived. Try not to make eye contact and let’s not laugh too much because we don’t want to hurt her more.
I’m still alive, people. I may not be actively living my life but much to my chagrin sometimes, I am surviving it. I’m not some big, scary monster that you should avoid. I am a reminder that death is possible in any relationship. Please, don’t be afraid to talk to me. Take my presence as a reminder to love those in your life as strongly as you can at any given moment, even when you’d rather kick them.
Do me a favor: when you come across someone you know is going through hell, treat them no differently. Ask them how they are really doing if you really want to know. Don’t be afraid to talk about the loved one that they lost. I bring up Josh in 90% of my conversations. People hold their breath at first, wondering if I’m headed for a breakdown. But after a while they realize that those are the moments when I have the most life behind my eyes. They realize that it’s okay when I talk about him, that I actually smile during those conversations. Now I just have to work on getting other people to bring him up, too. Until then, I will be that “queen of awkward” and I will continue to tell you all about my husband any chance I get. Sorry, but I’m just not sorry.