How are you – really

I’m ok with people asking “how are you?” when they don’t really care.

They do care – they just don’t want to know all the details.

When I was younger I was annoyed when people would say “have a nice day” or “how are you” but now I see it as a way of touching someone else, briefly, in a polite and possibly friendly way.

But every now and then someone asks “how are you?” and they mean it. You can feel the difference. They pause to hear what you are about to say. They look at you ready to find the truth behind your dismissive, “I’m ok.” They care. That’s a gift.

This morning my friend Mark met me for coffee — I’m always meeting people for coffee — and asked me how I’m doing.

I started to say, “I’m ok.” I didn’t want to bum him out. But I looked at him and realized he was really asking. So I told him. “I’m sad.”

This afternoon, the phone rang and a friend of Kim’s greeted me warmly and asked “how are you all doing?”

I knew what she meant and so I told her. “I’m sad.”

“I know,” she said, “tomorrow’s Elena’s birthday.” She remembered. She called to share the memory and take a little of the sadness. That’s a gift.

I’m not sad all the time. Mostly I’m very happy. Mostly life is filled with endless possibilities and wonderful friends. Kim and Maggie and I laugh a lot.

But some days I’m sad. I can’t explain it but being sad doesn’t make me unhappy. I still miss Elena. That makes me sad but it is somehow reassuring.

And that’s how I am. Really.

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 11:00 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice to hear from you.

  2. I am so touched by your posts about Elena. I can tell she was a special little girl, and it’s a privilege to share a small portion of your memories and “re-runs” of her life.

  3. “But some days I’m sad. I can’t explain it but being sad doesn’t make me unhappy. I still miss Elena. That makes me sad but it is somehow reassuring.”

    So rich and so true.

    I’m sad, too – but being sad doesn’t make me unhappy.

    The world is so much richer because of what you write. I only wish that your Elena was back in your arms. Her death is too high a price to pay for this much insight.

    I miss her with you.

    Cathy in Missouri

  4. I’m sitting here with tears running down my cheeks reading your blog for the first time. My husband and I lost a baby to stillbirth at 39 weeks just over two years ago. There are so many days where I find myself saying that same thing you have said: “I want my baby back.” But we didn’t even get to know our little guy’s personality at all. We didn’t get to experience it so we have only what might have been to miss. You had seven years of life and experiences and know exactly what you lost, plus the loss of what might have been and I can only imagine what that is like. I know that can only be many, many times more painful than what we went through and are still not over.

    For me time has made things easier in the sense of getting used to the feeling and having those feelings occur less frequently. But the feeling itself never goes away. Sometimes I wish it would go away, so I could feel somehow like I am completely over it, like forgiveness. But then I feel guilty like that means I will have forgotten and I don’t want to forget because I don’t want to lose the feeling of closeness, of being connected and of love, even if that feeling produces sadness and grief.

    It would be wonderful if one day one only feel the love and the connection, but the grief and pain and sadness would be totally gone, like forgiveness.

    I don’t know if this is possible, but for me I wish I could find a way because going through the rest of one’s life feeling like a piece of you will always be missing is not the way I would choose for anyone to have to live out the rest of their life, even if it becomes the way of living one becomes accustomed to in the sense of “acceptance” we all hear about in grief counseling.

    God Bless Elena and you and your family. If there is a way for you to have total peace, and no more sadness, I will pray that somehow you will be able to find it. I say this to you understanding that you are doing about as well as anyone can be expected to be doing under the circumstances; it is just that I would really like to wave my magic wand and return you back to that full sense of happy you had before you lost your daughter.

    I am probably rambling now. Take care of yourself and your family and thank you for sharing this part of your life.


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