Thursday, March 26, 2009

Totally awkward Thursday

This past weekend seemed rough to me. But I have to be brought down a notch or two, because this weekend was ridiculously hard on some members of my extended family.

One of my cousins passed away this past weekend at the age of 39. He apparently had high blood pressure, but wasn't consistent with taking his medication. He had some type of a flu-like virus last week, but seemed to be feeling better. About 10 minutes after speaking with his parents on the phone, while watching television with his wife and 3 kids, he got up to get something to drink and an aspirin. He collapsed, and apparently that was it. He had a massive cerebral hemorrhage. They kept him on life support long enough for his parents and brother and friends to get there to say goodbye. When they took him off, he died immediately.

If you know me at all, you know I have difficulty making small talk under normal circumstances. Add death to the mix, and I clam up because I don't know what the heck to say and don't want to say the wrong thing. I'm already in a fog this week, not sleeping well worrying about my son. In addition, the anniversary of my brother's death is coming up this weekend.

We couldn't not go, so my sister and I set out to the wake yesterday afternoon. I was freaking out because I just couldn't imagine what I would possibly say to his parents, but especially his wife. How lame does "I'm sorry" and "what a tragedy" sound after I'm sure they've heard that at least one thousand times?

The widow was exceptionally well composed. She was wearing a black sweater set with white piping, and by the time we got to her the white piping had a huge black mark on it that was obviously teary mascara. The widow is a tall woman, and she wasn't wearing any mascara. She's the kind of person that asked how You were doing, how are You holding up under the circumstances, with a smile on her face.

I hugged and kissed her, I gave her my "I'm sorry" and "what a tragedy". And, before I knew it, I put the piping of her sweater set between my fingers and tried to help rub out the mascara stain. I actually said out loud, "Sweetie, you've got to stop letting people cry on you!".

Luckily, she laughed. She even said, "Oh, Fancy, you're never going to change", like she thought it was funny. I will always cringe in horror every time I remember that moment, wondering if I ever will change...

10 comments:

Scope said...

I don't think you should cringe in horror at the memory. She was telling you that she loved you EXACTLY the way you are.

AT

THAT

MOMENT.

LegalMist said...

I'm with Scope. She was saying she loves your sense of humor, and that she appreciated the smile you brought to her face even under tragic circumstances. I bet she's really glad you're not going to change. And you shouldn't. You are charming just the way you are (well, from what I can tell by what you choose to post on the internet, anyway...).

And, for the record, I've never lost a spouse or a son or a father or a brother, but I have lost other relatives and friends, including one of my best friends, her husband, and their 2 year old daughter who were tragically killed by a drunk driver. There is nothing that anyone can say that will ever make it "better." But saying, "I'm sorry," and "What a tragedy" is absolutely a fine thing to say, even if you are the 1000th person who says those exact same time worn words. Because no matter how awful you feel, and no matter how inadequate the words may be, it is nice to know that people care. And those words are great ones, and well-worn, precisely because they are not awkward or the "wrong" thing to say.

I am guessing lots of people said those words to you when your brother died, too. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'd be willing to bet you weren't offended by them, even if they didn't take the hurt away, and that you appreciated that people were there and were trying...

Don't be so hard on yourself. You cared. You were there. You did the right thing.

And another thing.... (I'm getting into this "don't beat yourself up" rant, can you tell?)

Yes, their tragedy is bad, perhaps worse than yours, perhaps not. The relative sadness or difficulty of things is hard to measure. But just because others are suffering, it does not diminish your own suffering. Obviously it behooves you not to complain directly to persons who you know are in a worse situation than your own, and since we often don't know who those persons might be, it behooves us not to complain randomly to everyone (except on your blog, of course!), but you are entitled to your feelings, and you shouldn't quash them or minimize your problems merely because there are others in the world who suffer more. There are *always* others who suffer more. But your problems still exist.

Think of it this way. Would you have said to your cousin's wife, "Don't be sad, your situation isn't that bad compared to other people! There are children being raped, mutilated, and murdered in Africa!" Of course not. So why would you say something similar to yourself?

And on the other hand, we all do suffer, and so wallowing in self-pity isn't the answer either. At some point, accepting that life comes with problems, and just dealing with life as best you can, is a good idea; but even that isn't to say you should *minimize* your problems by comparing them to other people's problems and deciding you somehow need to be "brought down a notch or two."

I'll quit now. I don't mean to beat you up for beating yourself up... :)

I am sorry for the loss of your cousin. It truly is a tragedy. I'm also sorry for the loss of your brother; I know those anniversary dates are tough. Like you, I don't know what to say. But I hope you know we all care.

Sass said...

Scope said it.

LegalMist expanded upon it.

I'm agreeing with them.

Hugs to you, Fancy.

Big, big, big hugs...

Cora said...

Cringing is so not necessary, Fancy. She meant that you are sweet and a lovely person and that she dearly hopes you will never change. It was a good thing. I'm absolutely sure of it. :-)

Candy's daily Dandy said...

It was more of a protective, I'll take care of you, kind of moment.

And yes, she loves you for that.

I'm so sorry things have been bad lately and for your loss of a family member. Things will get better, of that I'm sure.

Gwen said...

To reiterate what's already been said, there is no need to cringe. You gave her a moment of normalcy in a day without any and I'm sure she appreciated it.

chaos37 said...

She honestly thought it was a funny ['funny ha,ha' not 'funny weirdo'] and she said the thing about you'll never change with a big grin on her face, she was glad you made a little joke in the midst of all that misery and she appreciated it. You did not put your foot in your mouth at all [not That time anyway - grin.]

JoJo said...

I agree w/ all these guys. And don't you EVER change. It's what we love about you. You aren't a Sagittarius, by any chance, are you?

Dr Zibbs said...

When it's time to change, you have to rearrange. Who you are. And the things you want to be.

Oh sorry. I was listening to the Bradys.

Seriously, sorry about the loss. But also seriously, don't change.

Dr Zibbs said...

And also, do you own the publishing rights to what Scope wrote?