When you see someone whether casually in passing or an old friend it is tossed out there like an obligatory nicety. “How are you?” Of course, we all know that “Fine thank you, and you?” is the polite and expected response. On occasion I have thought to myself how ridiculous this is and that on the whole, about 60% of those people really don’t want to know. They are just buzzing past on the way to their next stop and not really even paying attention.
At first I was very careful when considering my answer. I didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable with my grief. I wanted to continue to be the strong woman, to take care of myself. To keep my episodes of gut-wrenching grief private, except for a select few people I knew who would support me and love me unconditionally. It took awhile to realize that strong and self-sufficient had left the building the day my husband died.
I gradually realized that I never have good answer to the question. How do you say “I’m kind of happy today AND it feels like there is a hole in my heart AND I’m pissed off about it.” There should be some hybrid words that capture it. We’ve created so many frivolous and useless words (bling, chillax, rad, etc.) that I think we could put our linguistic efforts to good use to fill this need. How about “scrile”, when you are ready to burst into tears but you have to plaster a smile on your face and go on. Hapholigry: happy with a hole in my heart and angry.
It ends up being a state of contradictions. Am I okay? Yes-no. What do I need? To go to work to stay busy, earn a living AND to be at home alone thinking and journaling. To eat something, BUT nothing is appealing. To have companionship BUT I can’t stand being around anyone right now. To be active doing something BUT I can motivate to do so. I’m tired BUT I can’t sleep. The And-Buts are exhausting.
What I have decided to do for myself is this: know that the people in my close circle of friends and family really do care and want to know. They are my support. For the rest I have to decide whether or not I want to, or have the energy to really answer, or just let it pass.