I’ve found one of the least helpful questions through all of this, from first cancer diagnosis to today, two weeks a widow, is “How are you doing?”.
I know people mean well when they ask, but seriously, there is no good or right or possible real life answer to that question.
When Kramer was first diagnosed, people would ask me, “How is he doing?” Gee….how do I answer that? I’m not going to say, “He’s happy”. I’m not going to say, “He’s sick of sitting in the chair watching television.”
This question bothered the heck of our of Kramer. He would always rant to me after someone asked him “How are you doing?” FIRST let me clarify. Some people say, “How ya doing?”…that is more of a hello and that’s an okay question to ask. This is said in the tone of “haven’t seen an old friend for awhile”. There is the also the dreaded, “How are you DO-O-O-ing?” This is said very probingly. This one our whole family has come to hate.
Kramer would say:
“I would love to tell them THIS F-ing SUCKS”.
“I don’t really know. I’ve never done this before so I have nothing at all to compare it to.”
“I don’t really know if there is a scale to judge this all by so I don’t know how to evaluate it.”
“I’m trying so hard to live the life I have left that I don’t want to stop and evaluate it.”
Worst is when this exchange would occur:
Some would say, “How are you DO-O-O-ing?”. Either of us would say “Good.” The person would say, “No REALLY, How are you DO-O-O-ing?”
How were we to answer that? Were we to say:
We break out in tears from time to time.
I cry in the shower so the other doesn’t hear me.
I’m so pissed that this is where life took us that I want to scream!
What if I he doesn’t make it-I don’t know how often to change the oil in the car.
I don’t want to worry about how to change oil in the car.
The trips to Lacrosse back and forth STINK.
I’m afraid this treatment isn’t doing anything.
I don’t want to leave you.
I think this cancer is going to win.
Kramer just wants to eat real food.
I want to be #Kramerstrong but sometimes it’s really hard and I feel #Kramerweak.
HOW DOES ONE ANSWER THAT QUESTION???
Now…our poor kids are getting this question worse than ever only the question is all about me.
“How is your mom DO-O-O-ing?”….No. “How is she R-E-A-L-L-Y DO-O-O-ing?”
People…I am okay. Again, all of the things Kramer and I said before are so true.
I haven’t done this before. I think I’m doing okay but there is no measuring stick. I cry sometimes…I laugh sometimes. Days are easier than nights. Right now it is very easy to think of Kramer at being at work. Tuesday was super sunny and beautiful. He’d have been at work. Last night it rained. It was harder. He’d have been home.
Sleeping is a little bit disjointed. I wake thinking I need to listen to make sure his oxygen is going…then I don’t hear it running…then I have to remind myself that he’s dead. It takes me a bit to fall back to sleep.
All of that is okay though. It is part of the process. I have to unlearn it but part of me doesn’t want to and that’s okay too.
I don’t feel Kramer is gone from me. He’s always here…just not in physical form.
One of my favorite things I ever heard about love and devotion is this: A lady from where Roger grew up lost her husband early in their marriage leaving her with kids to raise on her own. She would always proudly say, “I’ve been married for 37 years and I had Edwin here with me for 15 of them.” I feel the exact same way. “I’ve been married almost 33 years and I had Kramer here for all but two weeks or so of them.”
I also REALLY loved this that a blog reader sent me…
I really don’t feel alone. I feel much like this lady described. Kramer is such a big part of me and he’s still there.
The most helpful thing anyone has said is:
-I’m thinking about you.
This leaves the conversation WIDE open. I can say thank you and that’s the end of the conversation. I can say, “Ya…I never thought I’d be here” and then talk about it if I want to. That makes the conversation more about me and what I need.
Asking “how we’re doing” is so much more invasive. It feels a little more like someone is probing to get the gossip and that doesn’t feel as friendly or caring. When people probe further and say- “NO, how are you R-E-A-L-L-Y DO-O-O-ing?”…you can imagine how that feels.
Here’s the truth of it all. I didn’t know asking “how are you doing” could be interpreted this way until I’m now going through this and …so I know others don’t know it either….so I’m pretty forgiving. BUT I know now and will do better if I encounter anyone who is in a situation like this. I’m simply say, “I’m thinking about you.”
“How am I R-E-A-L-L-Y DO-O-O-ing?”. I’ll answer the question. I’m sad, happy and mostly okay….It’s a moving target and that’s all I’m going to say.