I know that grief isn’t over. In fact, I know now that it will never be over. But, I do know that I function a little bit better than I did two years ago, and that my brain isn’t in a dense fog 100% of the time anymore. I’m still in a bubble that is constant awareness of my “situation.” A consciousness of what is missing wherever I am. A general nausea.
But, I don’t cry all day. I’ve learned a little bit better how to handle myself in a crowd of people who don’t know I’m grieving—how not to be mad at them for not knowing. I don’t hold my breath all the time. I don’t medicate myself as much. I don’t shake as often.
Lest I get too proud of myself, too quickly, however, it was made abundantly clear that I am much, much closer to the edge of falling apart than I realized—and it came as a complete surprise to me. A control freak such as myself does not like to be surprised, especially by her own emotions.
A couple of weeks ago I met a new client face-to-face for the first time. We had conversed many times over the phone and via email, but we’d never met. She doesn’t live in Nashville. Even though we already feel like we know each other, an in-person meeting can be an entirely different thing. Probably like online dating. Folks look good on paper and are even charming, but I would guess (since I haven’t gone through the process myself) that sometimes it can all fall flat upon meeting on the physical plane.
That wasn’t the case with my client. We virtually fell into each other’s arms and proclaimed love-at-first-sight. She knew of my “situation” because I had declined working with her, and her wonderful husband, two years ago. I’d agreed to represent them, and then had to bail out after Pete died, knowing I would be worthless, and it would be a waste of their money. They were very understanding.
As soon as their soundcheck was over, she and I huddled in a corner having some tea. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I am so, so sorry.” That’s it—that’s all she said. Pete died two years ago, but I knew that that was exactly what she was referring to. People often still tell me that they are sorry for my loss, and I appreciate it more than I can even describe in these blogs. I’ve had a lot of rehearsal, and I know how to say “thank you” without a catch in my throat. Why was this time different? She had already told me this over the phone two years ago. “I am so, so sorry,” with a sincerity that froze me in my tracks. Then she asked me, “How are you doing?” I couldn’t even answer her. My eyes welled up with tears and started to spill over my cheeks. Virtually instantly. I just stared at her. Overwhelmed. Kind of embarrassed. I was completely caught off guard with these comments and questions that I hear all the time. But something was just different. And I was stunned at the speed of which I went from feeling “normal” to full-blown grief-stricken.
She gave me a hug, and that was that. But it was a reminder of the rawness that is right there. That I’m more on the edge of suffering than I was aware of. That the façade of normal is good, and a mentally healthy appearance and reality is what I strive for. But, in a way, nothing has changed. It just took the intensity and sincerity of one person to remind me of that.