I get the question "How are you?" more often than I wish I did. My entire life, even if things weren't really going my way I would always reply with a positive response. That is just what people do because it catches people off guard to respond with, "I'm awful, and you?" or "My life is in shambles."
I wish there was a way to turn off the question... at least for a few years. I acknowledge this is impossible because it is second nature for most people to ask how are you? as a greeting. If I could install a flashing neon sign on my head that said, "I'm not doing so hot so please don't ask" I would avoid a lot of less than desirable conversations. Complete strangers don't apply to this. They will always receive a "I'm doing ok, or fine thanks" as a reply. It wouldn't be appropriate to offer up the sadness that is often my life. It's too much for a most people. Myself included. It's just too too much.
When asked the question how am I, I immediately think to respond that I'm alright, but something inside me incinerates that response and my brain screams, "I am barely holding it together... that's how I am!" I never want to make anyone feel awkward, but at the same time it is written all over my face that I don't want to give you a truthful answer. If I could just delete that question for a few years all of my conversations would turn out better.
Instead, I am dealing with a lot of bright eyed people who suddenly realized they had just asked me, the mother who lost her precious child, how I am. Some immediately recant their question and apologize for asking, some wait for an answer to which I try to reply truthfully without introducing awkward silences. The problem that occurs is when someone who knows me or is good enough friends with me and knows what happened, or even those who are reading my blog ask me how I am, I immediately think about how to answer the question. If I say, "I'm great" that response would be completely false and they might misinterpret what is really going on. I am in no way shape or form.. great! I have been trying to reply with "I'm working on being OK." That usually elicits a sympathetic response, but nothing overboard. Some times I just smile and hope they have a different question I can answer... like how's (insert family members name) doing? I don't leave every conversation feeling depleted but I do feel like some things I say are not socially acceptable, and that is just not me.
If there was a way to communicate that I am broken and my heart longs to have my daughter back everyday without saying those words or making someone uncomfortable, that would be ideal. Sadly there is not. It is just a lose-lose situation because I have to then sort through the sea of responses to my response and I would just rather not do that.
There is a vast array of what people say that sometimes makes me feel like I don't want to leave my house in fear that I have to rent space in my brain to someone due to their off handed comment, and others I end up feeling bad for because they want to apologize over and over for something they said.
When someone replies, "Oh with time you'll be alright" I just stop dead in my tracks and don't really have a reference on where to go from there. I always try to be polite and will respond with something to the tune of, "I hope so." They probably mean well, yes... I'm sure they do. I truly believe that time is not going to be the key to me being alright. It just isn't. The saying "time heals all wounds" does not apply here. Time makes all wounds worse is more like it. I am losing so many hopes and dreams for my future and I have no say in the matter. Am I really going to be fine? Am I? According to the lady in the super market I am. She believes in me :-)
My least favorite offered up attempt at consoling is, "Well, she's in a better place," like I should feel a measure of relief that she is there. SERIOUSLY!? She's in a better place? No. sorry. I mean, yes technically yes she is spared of some things, but she could not have been any more loved. She was happy and cosy right where she was and we all need her. Life is about challenges, overcoming challenges, the joy of success, and life's experiences. Is it a relief that Mia avoided some of the hard things? Not one bit. She brought so much sunshine into our lives, and her absence is more challenging that I would have ever guessed.
I do feel relief when I run into someone from my past or anyone for that matter that simply says, "Hey! it's good to see you." or "It's been a long time." My favorite favorite greeting is when someone has something to say about my girl. That always is much easier than "how are you?" followed by a dismissal of everything difficult in my life.
My favorite greeting so far...
"Mimi, your daughter Mia has changed my life."
Comments about Mia easily dispel any awkwardness and they make my day. It is nice to know as a mother that someone else, even strangers, take notice and care about your child who's life was so short. I had so many plans for that girl, so for people to care about her and to have had such an impact on others helps me tremendously.
If you are reading this and you will more than likely see me in the future I don't want you to cater to this post. In a perfect world people wouldn't ask how I am, but that will never ever happen. I find myself not asking people how they are in hopes they don't ask me. The honest truth is I am working (some days much more than others) on being alright. My family of course save me everyday and I have so much love to give them, I am just running on fumes much of the time.