A couple of comments were made this past week that I have to respond to. The comments weren’t made offensively, or lightly; they were made in an attempt to be kind or gentle and I know that. It doesn’t stop me from thinking and feeling and reacting to them though.
The first comment needs some context. Immediately after Kevin died my workmates circulated a card of sympathy for my peers to sign. Somehow it never got delivered to me and surfaced at work this week. My manager brought it to me – cautiously, ever so careful not to upset me. She asked me how I was feeling, and told me briefly the circumstances surrounding the late delivery of the card, and handed it to me advising me to ‘look at it when I felt strong enough,’ or words to that effect. Fact is, for things like that, you never feel strong looking at them. They hit right down to the rawness that surrounds death; they send you hurtling back in time to that period of intense darkness. I don’t know that I will ever feel strong when it comes to looking at the cards and messages I got after Kevin’s death – they will forever be associated with the most vulnerable, weakest period of my life.
The second comment again came from a very gentle kind place. It was one that I’ve heard several times since Kevin died. I’ve probably said it myself in the past to friends who had family members die; I will never say it in the future. It’s the statement, “I don’t know how you do it.” The reality is that there is no choice for the people left behind. Life keeps moving forward and even though you want to stop, to linger in the past, you can’t. The months after Kevin died I know I had one foot in the past and one foot in the present. If I could have I would have stopped time, it would have stopped the incessant throbbing pain I felt. But I couldn’t and the pain has to be faced, and you just do it. You get by.
My husband died. For me, there were no choices and, nope, I don’t feel strong, but I’m getting by. It’s just one day at a time.