“How are you doing?” is the question.
I want to say;
“I still leave the kitchen light on every night and I’m not sure why, and I had to leave Fareway yesterday because the peanut butter aisle reminded me of David, and oh, by the way, I have yet to make it through a Hy-Vee without crying, and I missed a book sale today because I couldn’t bear to go to a book sale without him. Do you know how many book sales we attended together? We started going in 1995 and Emily was conceived on the night of that November book sale, and is that too much information for you, and how could I even know that? But I do. And our first was conceived on our wedding night, and how cool is that, but it also means we had only nine months in a home without a child and never experienced an empty nest, never even traveled outside of Iowa, or went on an airplane or went to a concert. I cry every Sunday during Mass because I used to hold his hand and now I see older couples holding hands and we will never grow old together, and I miss him, I miss him, I miss him! I don’t want to coupon shop and I always loved to go shopping, but I don’t want to because we did that together, so I haven’t gone to the Dubuque Walgreens since his death. Everything makes me think of him; I hit the buttons on the ATM machine and I think about laughing with him when he kept hitting the screen and then we went out for a banana split and I don’t think I will ever want to eat a banana split again. I peel a boiled egg and remember how he boiled eggs one morning and I corrected his method, telling him I’d read an article about the perfect way to boil eggs and he asked me why I always had to be right, and why did I? Couldn’t he have been right just that once, and why didn’t I lay down to take a nap with him that Sunday before, when he asked me, instead of saying “I’m too busy.” Why couldn’t I have lain by him that one last time and held his hand and gazed into his beautiful brown eyes? Why was I always so busy? Was it easier or harder for my mother, living in an empty house when she lost my Dad? How did she stand it? This morning I watched Abby singing at the final program for Vacation Bible School and sitting in the audience seeing her face, I so wanted to see some joy, some laughter, some happiness from her, and I only saw a tiny glimpse of the old Abby, but it hit me that mostly I’ve seen anger emanating from her. Then she called me stupid after the program because I couldn’t find the t-shirt she’d made, so I sobbed in the car in front of my grandsons and then I really felt stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid with grief. “I hate you!” she railed, and I saw the faces of other women there, and their horrified looks said I am a horrible mother with a horrible child. Then Abby and I visited the gravesite and we both sobbed, hugging each other, and she said she is sorry and she doesn’t know why she says those things. I went to a grief support group on Wednesday and the woman next to me introduced herself and said it had been two years since her husband died and she began crying and I felt a stab of fear. Oh, no, am I going to feel like this in two years? And I don’t think I can stand that, when another person tells me it is worse at five months, and someone else says a year, and I don’t think I can bear hearing that. We ask each other what helps, and I tell them that when it gets really, really bad, it helps me to write to someone who David loved and to reach out beyond myself, and the heads nod, and I want someone to tell me what to do. Tell me what to do. Tell me how to do this, and where is the handbook of grief? And will I write one someday? But if I have learned nothing else about grief, I have learned that everyone grieves differently. And no one there, not any of the attendees or the social worker who facilitated the group, knew where I could get help for Abby. All of them were older than me and none of them had to contend with a young child’s grief. And how could there be no help for a child who grieves in this town? Surely other children are suffering the los of a parent and cannot wait for a bereavement camp in September. And oh, I am so glad I have my children, but I will never be loved like David loved me, no matter how much my children love me, no matter how much my siblings love me. I will never again feel that love. And I can’t hold his hand or hug him and I miss that already, and if I miss that already, what will I feel like in two years? Will I be sitting in a grief group crying too? And this hurts so much more than when I lost my mother, and that hurt really, really bad, and I can’t stop writing about it and talking about it and my GriefShare daily e-mail a few days ago said that at some point some people might get bored with your grief and it might no longer be appropriate to share with them, and am I at that point, and how will I know which people I can still share with? So I haven’t posted on my blog in a few days because it might be now, at ten and a half weeks, that I am supposed to be “better?” And is there really such a thing for a grieving spouse? And, oh, how my heart hurts, and I feel as though there is a huge, empty void in my life.”
But what I say, after a slight hesitation, is,