Thursday, October 01, 2009

Those who know. Those who don't.

Had an interesting epiphany today, courtesy of my ever observant, ever lovely wife. She said we think that we're walking around with signs around our necks announcing what our family has just been through. But the truth of the matter is not everyone knows what's happened.

So when a friend or acquaintance approaches us and congratulates us on a nice quote in a national newspaper, or pulls out copies of their new magazine from the trunk of the car and stuffs them excitedly in our hands - both of which happened to me today - we should resist the urge to look at them funny and wonder why they don't get it. As devastating as loss can be to immediate family members, it's often just a blip, if that, to folks located further toward the periphery of our existence.

From now on, I'll remind myself of this perspective every time I read the obituaries page in the paper. Within the context of each affected family, entire worlds are being irrevocably changed. My distance from them doesn't change any of that. Nor does magazine-trunk-lady's distance from me change anything for me.

One more thing:

Speaking of my ever lovely wife, I can't continue without sharing a thought on her own, additional, burden these days. Her mom's been in the hospital for nearly two weeks. She had surgery earlier this week and is scheduled for another date with the knife tomorrow. Her road back to health is long, challenging and uncertain. Even without my dad's passing, this alone would have been enough to slam lesser folks into uselessness.

Not my wife. While she's been moving heaven and earth to be there for me, to cushion me from the harsh realities of the planet while I try, pathetically, to heal, she's been wrestling with being there for her mom and keeping it together for her marathon man of a dad. She's also been single-handedly parenting our three kids, integrating herself back into her teaching and keeping the increasingly psychotic dog from camping out on the kitchen table (story for another day, I promise.)

I recently wrote about our daughter's backbone, about her strength of character that seems to defy any force that comes up against her. She gets it from Debbie. Who clearly got it from her parents.

If you have a spare moment, I'd like to ask you to please say a prayer for Deb's mom. While we can't get back what's been lost, we remain hopeful that everyone else in our orbit can return to a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.

Related link: Debbie's blog. Feel free to say hi.


Anonymous said...

And a prayer for your wonderful wife. It is so true; most people just aren't that aware of what's going on with us.

I know it's hard to believe now, but one day soon you'll find that you go an hour without thinking of it. Or you find a laugh at something unexpected - and then a laugh at a fond memory. Time is a cruel master, but a steady healer.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with your wife, you and your family and her mom. I send all the Aloha and Sunshine I can to you. I know I say that over and over, but I do mean it.

People don't know what we are going through unless they are close family and friends. We just have to deal with the situation as it arises and move forward. It is meant well and I do believe helps in the healing process. It does take time, but I promise you this: It does get better.

Much aloha. Rabbit, rabbit

dianne - bunny trails said...

Praying for your wife and her family, as well as you and yours, Carmi.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

I learned in recovery that we all walk around with a neon sign over our heads that speaks what we are feeling inside. We may not see it but others do. (this after years of studying this phenomena) You may not see it there but it exists.

Like I told you before, one day at a time, you will learn your way back into life. It will happen on God's time. So don't rush it.

Little epiphanies will occur, just be vigilant for them. Know you are all in my prayers.


quilly said...

I added your MIL to my prayer list the first time you mentioned she was in the hospital -- your wife as well because I realized she was suffering an extra burden.

bobbie said...

Of course we'll say prayers. ]
I understand what you are saying about others never knowing what is going on in your life. We do have to remind ourselves constantly that those we meet every day may have huge burdens or problems that we will never now about, and we should be able to practice every day kindness - just because.

MB said...

You are so lucky to have such a strong woman in your life. You, Debbie, Debbie's Mom, your entire family are all in my prayers.

lissa said...

Prayers being said, positive energy sent your mother-in-law's way...and yours as well.

I understand that feeling well, going through something so major and life-changing while the world just goes on. I would leave the hospital to feed a parking meter or go get some food, and people were laughing...I mean, how on earth could people laugh while my mom was slipping away??

Or signing online and someone with whom I hadn't chatted in a while would pop up with a "hey, guess what's been happening?" to which I would reply, "I've had a lot going on too..." and proceed to break the news that was months old but still fresh.

Perspective can be universal - as in the events of 9/11/01 - but more often than not, it is more local and we usually learn that lesson when we are the ones experiencing the toughest times.

You and Debbie are an amazing pair. No - strike're One. A unit very few achieve. And it's good to know you are there for one another in these trying times.

kenju said...

Done, Carmi. You two are really getting it from all sides now. What she said about others not knowing or realizing your pain is true. You have to be patient with them.

Mojo said...

"Spare moment" my big ol' butt. For this I'll make a moment. Or several. For all of you.

And in case you missed it, the Habs beat the Leafs in their opener. That should bring a smile to you... if only for a moment.

hahamommy said...

I remember the overwhelming urge to run into traffic, to inform everyone who was going about their business, that my world had just fallen off it's axis -- everyone should know! Billboards came to mind, so did big magnets for my car!
There was a big moment in the Michael Jackson funeral when I was really envious of his family... no one will ask *those* children "How's your dad?" weeks after his death...
I've begun looking into the eyes of those who "don't know" to find incredible gratitude for their innocence and a reinforced respect for my own strength and resilience.
I recently heard Richard Bach say, "How can we begrudge those we love the opportunity to return to the Perfect Love from which they came?" We cannot, those of us who know... we can only find a source of patience until the time we, too, can return. ♥

Tracie said...

It's been a long time. I am so sorry for your loss. I understand your feelings well-when it seems like your world has been hit with a stop button, and yet everyone else is moving forward....and they just don't realize what you are going through. I will,indeed, pray for you and your family and especially for your wife.

Anonymous said...

I will say a few prayers for Debs mom, being an only child I just helped my mom go through stomach cancer/surgery/treatment and any prayer can help. I also keep your family in my thoughts your unity will get you through all of this....
*hugs* & prayers

sealaura said...

Hi Carmi,

I know what your wife means. About 3 years ago I went through a really hard time and I almost wanted to shout it out to everyone I saw, just because it made it seem more real to me and I guess I just wanted everyone to know why I was different even though they probably didn;t care or probably had no idea. Hope this makes sense. Anyway, I am sorry this has been such a hard time for your family. I hope writing helps with the grief a bit. I know you probably hear this a lot but you always have fun, silly, profound, thoughtful things to say that touch people everyday. Hope you know your bloggy friends have you in their thoughts.


Steph said...

Chiming in on this a little late, but my prayers are with you, as yours have been with me in the past. Prayers for your wife, her mother, and your entire family - on both sides - after your loss.

gel said...

For your wife's mom: heal quickly

Laurie said...

Your family has faced so many challenges and my heart goes out to you all as well as my prayers.