“A feeling of pensive sadness”… sounds about right. Truth is, I’m uncertain of how I feel or should be feeling. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m still seeing people for the first time after “it” happened. Each time, it’s like ripping a scab off only to have it bleed again. and again. and again. The wound never really heals, does it? We all carry our wounds and scars till the end. Blemished indeed. Granted, some wounds and scars are more visible than others.
Each week, I have to tell it all over again and revisit those moments and those feelings. So, each week as I gradually make my rounds, person to person, friend to friend, family member to family member, it’s hard to know how I should feel most of the time. I’ve tried giving watered down or abbreviated versions of what happened. It doesn’t make it easier when I lay down at night. The images, the smells, the feelings… they replay in my head until I finally fall asleep.
Sometimes it’s the “elephant in the room.” We want to talk about it. We have to talk about it… but how to transition into it? How do you go from the warm, pleasant greeting of hugs and kisses and the “good to see yous” to the very thing that’s brought us there? How do you politely usher in the dark clouds of sadness, trading the light in the room for a heavy and unhappy overcast of frowns and nods and tears and nothing to say but “I’m sorry” … and sometimes just painful silence. I don’t want to go there, but we have to.
And the talk of the holidays have brought a whole new spread of emotions too. I’m trying to come to grips with a new and different reality that wasn’t even fathomable just 2 months ago. Everywhere I turn, there’s a reminder of that. So, daily I am constantly working through a thousand emotions… which is tiresome. At work, by now I’m expected to fulfill my responsibilities and always in the back of my mind and in my heart I’m sorting through a myriad of emotions while outwardly, I have to remain kind, helpful, and encouraging. And for god’s sake… have some composure! At home, I have chores, left-over work, and a marriage. All of which require time, effort, love and patience.
And I’m asked daily in passing, “How are you? How are things going?” And I know the answer you expect… or at least what you want to hear because we all have schedules to keep and places to be. “Fine” I say. “I’m ok.” I reply. Deep down we both know it’s not entirely true. But you nor I have the time to say so. We’d be too vulnerable. I’ve tried. I’ve tried really answering that question before. But the expressions and responses I got were so uncomfortable that it’s laughable. I’d probably be the same way had the tables been turned. We can’t take the awkward. The awkward is too unbearable and embarrassing isn’t it? And we are all about the comfort and the bearable here.
But I have to be honest too, most of the time I don’t feel like giving you the “real” answer anyway. It hurts too much. And I don’t want to burden you or make you feel bad or cause ripples in our day. Why make the day more difficult than it has to be? I don’t want to be pitied or make you feel like you have to do or say something clever to “cheer me up.” I’ll settle for pseudo-happy if it means I don’t have to cry in front of you.
Sometimes, I think I expect that I’d be “happy” by now. To be “over it”. Especially if I laugh or smile at something amusing or if I’m distracted with engagements or outings. I think to myself, “I’m laughing. I must be getting better. Things must be getting easier.” But at the end of the day, it’s there. Waiting on me, like a ghost that has extended its stay. A shadow and a reminder that has refused to leave, and somewhere along the way I’ve grown accustom to it. I’ve made room and even cleaned out a bathroom drawer. I don’t know if that’s a good thing if it stays, but it feels right.
Because what I really want is to weep and be so sad and then be able to smile or laugh at something funny or talk about trivial things without it being assumed that I’m “over it” . I really want to be free to take up some of your time to talk about it again and again and cry and then go grab some dinner and a drink. I really want to not say anything and sit with you and we both be ok with that. And when you say “How are you?” or “How are things?” I want to be able to say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” and have the option of expanding upon it or just leaving it at that, and it all be acceptable. We don’t even have to understand it… let us just not be weird about it. I want to know it’s ok to just feel how I feel even if it doesn’t make sense. I just want to feel it all, and it be ok to do so.