I knew I was going to be down on points from the moment I opened my eyes and it has not been an easy day. It’s been that kind of dreadful that is all consuming; I’m not quite sure of whether I am sick, sad or just tired of riding this Yo-Yo.
Of course if you asked me, I would probably say I’m fine..
‘Are you okay?’ is common conversational currency. It’s the equivalent of a five pence piece, winningly compact but of little real value. It’s one of those questions we often ask, forget an answer might follow, and then move on with only the slightest pause. It leads only to a narrow space – the permitted responses of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘fine’ – one which will gently rattle the universe.
Honestly, how often have you said ‘no’ in response? That path seems only for the brave; a breach of etiquette, likely to be met with an awkward silence, an abrupt change of conversation or perhaps a call to the emergency services… perhaps its just a British thing.. what do you think?
At any rate, today when I say that I’m fine, what I really want to say is that:
I woke from a dream of dad only to have the memory that he’s gone break over me like an icy wave that’s left me cold all day.
I got up, did the dishes, fed the dog and then sobbed in the shower till my tummy hurt – then wondered if that qualifies as coping.
I’m imagining myself as a gingerbread man with the middle cookie-cut out.. maybe the pain I feel is my veins, muscles, sinews re-routing to try to avoid touching on that absence, that emptiness.
I’m painfully aware that grief is something beautiful. It opens your eyes to life, asks so many questions – but I am honestly a little frightened to find that I have so few of the answers.. and if I try to explain this awful beauty you might just think I’m crazy.
For the first time in weeks, I let myself cry in front of my brother and felt oddly proud that little risk gave him permission to tell me how he really feels too..
I don’t want to feel sad but I am deeply committed to letting myself feel, no matter how little fun it is. I do not want deadness to be my way of escaping from this death. It seems I have become a grief evangelist..
The messed up thing is that when I tell you I am not okay, I feel bad. Not for my pain, but your awkwardness, the sense I get from you that there is something you should do, or say, that you don’t know how to, or don’t want to. When I can’t sign up to ‘okay’ I feel just a little bit like I’ve let you, and myself down… and frankly that makes me want to hit someone with a plank!
For all my frustration with that damned question, I am no bold pioneer. I have no strength to cut my way out of this conversational convention.
But perhaps the next time someone asks me that question I’ll have a little rebellion – I’ll say ‘I’m not okay, but that’s okay’… and then we can edge a little closer to something real.