Friday, February 27, 2015

Are you OK?

Greetings All,

Not sure how long this post is going to be as I start it.  Normally, I have a list of things/thoughts I’ve sketched out in my head before I start writing, but I only have one, so this might be short.

As I mentioned in the last post, we officially made the decision to go to Florida, so we’ve been busy planning for that the last two days.  I had a moment where I was channeling my Dad and checked out the weather channel, and saw that there’s a good storm blowing into the region on Sunday, and that’s when we were going to leave.  Not wanting that, we scrapped our Saturday plans and decided to jump on the road tonight (between Midnight and 5am, whenever we wake up.  Yes, sleep is that elusive right now).

A lot of people have asked us how Anya is doing, and we had a great opportunity to really see an answer (not THE answer, just one slice of that answer) today, as Anya had another culminating event.  For you newer readers, Anya goes to a charter school (Charyl Stockwell Academy), and one of the things the kids focus on is presentation skills with the knowledge they have acquired.  2-3x a year, the kids will present the end results of their projects to the adults who are able to visit their classroom during the days of the event.

As we went in today, we got to see the full spectrum of capabilities that Anya’s classmates have learned, as there are both 1st and 2nd graders together in the classroom.  Some are spectacular writers, some are just beginning.  Some can present well, others are really nervous.  Anya was really, really doing well.  She had researched well, written both her persuasive and informative pieces exceedingly well, and did so with charm and energy.  She did all of that within the last 8 weeks, when she was only going to school 1/2 time, and was dealing with Amie’s decline as well.  Yeah.  She’s handling things well, at least academically.

This segues into what I wanted to talk about well, actually.  

A few months back, I wrote a blog post that I got A LOT of feedback on, and it was nearly all positive, so i wanted to do something else in that vein.

Please stop asking people who have gone through something harsh/traumatic  “ Hey, are you doing ok?”  <disclaimer, this is not pointed towards anyone specific.  It’s quite universal.>

People are constantly asking me, over the last two weeks, “Are you doing ok?”

I’m absolutely bewildered on how to answer that question.  No matter what I say, I feel like I’m either being a jerk and dumping on someone who’s just trying to participate in the most basic of social exchanges and not be a total jerk.  I get the fact that the other person wants you to know that they know you’re struggling, and that they don’t really have the correct words to say.  But, just like saying “Let me know what I can do to help” or “let me know if you need anything”, when you say “Are you OK?”, you’re putting the burden of things on the person who is in crisis.

Of course, in this moment, I am supposed to offer up alternate statements.  

If someone was to say instead, “How was this week?” or “How are things going today?”, I feel like I can compartmentalize and say something useful, or take an easier way out and say “ok. ok.”, and move along.

When people ask me if I’m doing ok, it seems like an imposition of sorts, as if I’m supposed to organize and dissect all the completely varying and complicated emotions that are swirling around me right now.  Yes. It sucks. No, she’s not suffering.  Yes, I miss the hell out of her. No, we’re not ready to go back to work. Yes, Anya misses her sister. No, we didn’t sleep well last night. Yes, we wish things had gone a different way. No, we aren’t settled with the way we see the world and the justice of a freaking 22 month old getting cancer and fighting a valiant and glorious and beautiful fight for nearly 3 years.

How does one do that in normal, comfortable conversation?

One does not.  One struggles.

So.  If you have the option, ask something kinder, something more pointed, and something that gives them the option to opt out if they desire.  “Are you OK?”, doesn’t really do that.

Enough preaching for today?  I think so.





Want to know what gluttons for punishment Shelley and I are?  

We went through all of Amie’s clothes on Wednesday.  All of her clothes in the closet, in her dresser.  That was hard.  We also went through all of Anya’s old clothes that she’s no longer fitting in that Amie will never get the chance to wear.  That was harder.

Through this entire process, I was crying.  A was a sad, sobby mess.  Seeing some outfits that she wore is such a tangible reminder of things, a very hyper-specific memory inducer that makes you immediately flash back to those postcard moments, those amazingly great times…and breaks you for a little bit.  Of course, if you go through all her clothes in one day, as we did, it breaks you over and over and over. 


We filled up the car with Amie's clothes, and took them all to Salvation Army, minus the 5% of the stuff that we couldn't part with, and wanted to keep for all the reasons one might want to keep them.  

But, maybe, like ripping off a bandaid, it helped with the healing process.  We’ll see, we’ll see.


Ok, enough for me today, as I’m a bit raw.  We’re headed to Florida in t-minus 12 hours or so.  Updates from the warmth, if I’m focused.