Sunday, January 20, 2013

How Are You?


How Are You?

“How are you?”  For the past several weeks I have heard this question more than bird song.  Occasionally it’s been accompanied by a worried tilt of the questioner’s head, sometimes by an encouraging squeeze of my shoulder.  There is often a faintly detectable frisson of fear behind the eyes that reveals, despite the honest concern for my welfare, the questioner is sincerely in hopes that I won’t fall apart in their presence.  I am grateful for the wonderful people that populate my life and grateful for their kind attention to me as, each time, I have reassured them that I’m fine.  Really.  I’m fine.

The rituals of a Southern funeral are forged in iron and not to be escaped.  It doesn’t matter that one is exhausted.  Nor that one is an only child with more on one’s plate than is fathomable.  The duties for those left behind when a parent passes away in the South are strangely akin to those necessary in planning a party.  Flowers? Check.  Music?  Check.  Food?  Check.  One hopes one remembers all the names that go with all the faces so that all the introductions go smoothly.  One hopes to put everyone at ease in what is almost always a bit of an uncomfortable situation.  And one does it all in high heels, which is nearly always stressful in and of itself.  And one is fine.  Really.

Then suddenly, everyone is gone.  The habits of everyday life begin to slowly draw their patterns around the hours once more.  Dinners are prepared.  Dogs are walked.  Laundry is done.  And one is fine.  Really.  Fine. 
 Or so one thinks.

Then comes the night when I’m knitting by the fire.   As Time Goes By is on the television - a big white dog is asleep at my feet.  My ball of yarn decides to fall from my lap and as I’m reeling it in I pause to give Edward a tummy rub and feel a bird’s egg-sized lump just behind his left leg and suddenly, incredibly, my “fine” self crumbles like a dry sycamore leaf.  (Before I worry anyone, let me hasten to say that this little malady of Edward’s was seen to promptly and found to be very common, utterly benign, and easily dealt with.  But do keep in mind that I wasn’t aware of this at the time, rendering the shock of its discovery as, The Final Straw.)  First, all the sound in the room changed to a loud roar as my vision went dark.  I made it to the bathroom where I lost... well, let’s just say I now have infinitely more sympathy for poor Kate Middleton and her “extreme” bout of morning sickness.  Then... my temperature started to climb.  It reached 101 degrees by the time I fell into bed, feeling for all the world that I’d been run over by a coach and six.  Next morning came a migraine.  Yes dear reader, I fell apart.
  
When the migraine left and Edward had been to his vet, The Songwriter, sounding eerily like Vernon Dursley from Book One of Harry Potter, declared in his most exasperated voice... “We’re going away!  Far away!”

And so we did.  All four of us piled into a large rental car and headed for the coast.  Pale and silent, I sat in the passenger seat like a placid little mental patient on a supervised outing and upon arriving at our destination, promptly fell asleep for the better part of two days.  We took long walks on the beach.  We ate oranges.  We laughed a lot. I  realized how much calmer and relaxed I was starting to feel when I began to observe Edward and Apple having such a good time.  They couldn’t pass each other without stopping to play.  Edward had a grin on his face the entire time we were away.  No doubt  both dogs had been absorbing all the stress I thought I had so cleverly concealed when I was “fine”.   They are never fooled. 

It’s admittedly strange when your body stages its own revolt, finally demanding to be heard when its been ignored for too long.  One little scare, one thin, tiny straw, and all hell can break loose.  If you ever find yourself in  a similar situation, and I hope you never do, I can empirically attest to the restorative powers of sun and sand, oranges, and the love of a big white dog.  
We really are fine now, and trust me, I know the difference.


32 comments:

  1. Hi, I've just stopped by... I am so sorry for your loss. Warmest Regards, N.G.

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  2. It is very normal and quite common to have an outpouring of grief about six weeks after losing your loved one. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  3. You are right.. our animals are never fooled by our feeble attempts to convince ourselves and them that we are 'fine'. They know us too well, and love us too much! :) I'm glad you're genuinely better now, and you had time with your loves far away. Sea air and lots of love and rest work wonders on our hearts and souls. Sending hugs!

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  4. My mother was always great in a crisis....any kind of crisis. A bleeding wound? Yep Lightening hitting a water heater in your kitchen?? Yep Sudden severe illness? Yep Even a death?? Absolutely! Mom was the go to person when things went wrong. She was always strong, did what was needed, comforted those who needed it and generally smoothed any kind of troubled waters. She did it efficiently, calmly, quietly without any great dramatics or overreaction. She was a rock.

    Until everything was fixed, corrected, accepted, and seen to. When others were back on their path to "normal" and all shocks and worry had been dealt with....THAT is when Mom fell apart. In private or just around her immediate family. There would be tears, shaking, anger, frustration, long sleeps, and finally, finally talking through her feelings.

    Most people only saw the rock, the strong woman, the fixer. But we knew, Mom felt things just as deeply as everyone else, she just wouldn't (couldn't??) let those feelings go until everyone and everything else had been taken care of.

    Mom, too, was always "fine." Actually she was great!

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  5. Hello Dear Pamela, Apple & Edward, I am so sorry to hear of your loss & our hearts go out to you, especially to not only deal with grief and loss but all those other details. When you spoke of Edwards lump I was instantly with you - oh my how I've had plenty of similar scares and all of them thankfully nothing to worry about - we are thrilled that this was the case here as well. Sending oodles of love & comfort & sweet kisses to A & E form me, Sam & Miss Winnie Dixon

    xoxo Susan

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  6. Dear Pamela: I held my breath until I read that Edward would be well once again. Then I cried. I cried for you, your Mother and my Father. Loss is a personal matter within one's soul. Somtimes the scent of a perfume or cologne can bring you back into a time when you were a child holding your Mother's hand and she smelled so sweetly. Grieving is an inevitable process, and necessary for re-balancing oneself. I wish you the best.

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  7. I to held my breath whilst reading this post . I am so sorry for your loss . I lost my mum 4 years ago and my dad 15 years ago and to this day I miss them dearly but know they are always in my heart and memories forever ! I am so glad to hear Edward will be fine and that you both are there for each other , the unconditional love from a pet is amazing ! One of my favorite shows As Time Goes By all repeats to me now a days though lol ! Take care .

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  8. A large exhale over here. I also recently lost my Mom. I understand too well what you have just gone through. Your words have tugged my heart and soothed my soul. Thank you Pamela.

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  9. Your comparison of funeral planning to a party reminds me of how much wedding preparations seemed so much like a dance recital... Sounds like you needed a change of scenery.

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  10. Dogs are the most wonderful healers Pamela - you and I as dog lovers know that don't we? Take care.

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  11. Dogs are such great comfort in the worst times. I am so so sad that you had to go through that episode. I know truly how you felt.
    And I have a couple of great dogs myself, thank goodness.
    Wishing you peace and calm.

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  12. Pamela,
    I'm so relieved to know you and Edward are both "fine". The stress of loss is far greater than many of us imagine. The Songwriter sounds like a very wise and good man!
    Karen

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  13. Oh honey, I am so glad that you are fine.
    You also have a very fine husband who knows exactly what to do to make Everything fine again.
    All the best & hugs to you, the husband and the dogs. C

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  14. So very sorry to hear how difficult things have been for you lately,especially dealing with death,losing someone so very precious. i am glad to hear that ya'll went away,that is almost always a healing ,a beginning of healing at least.you are so brave to share these experiences. we are all thinking of you with love and prayers. may the days become lighter ---Jade

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  15. I am glad you found restoration in sun, sand, oranges and the love of a big white dog, and the lovely man was so good to orchestrate the trip.

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  16. Pamela, I am heartened to know that you have come through this crisis. Everyone has their breaking point and grief often manifests itself years later. Sometimes the stronger you are the bigger the time gap and the harder the fall. Go easy on yourself.

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  17. when my husband died from a long fight with throat cancer ~
    i fell apart. but not until two years later ~ on the very same date of his death.
    i had 'held it together' i guess.
    but nature has a way of making us slow down and accept and heal and finally . . . rest.
    love,
    to you wonderful four.
    thank god for your songwriter's wisdom!
    tammy j

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  18. How wonderful you describe your way from being "fine" to being really fine under the circumstances.
    You might experience still a few back and forth, emotionally ups and down, before you will come to terms with your mother's passing, but you will know now that you will make it through just fine, with the help of your songwriter, the dogs and all your friends, near and far! You are thought off most often and may this carry you through!

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  19. I am so happy that you are feeling better. Getting away can make all the difference.

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  20. On my blog list it says you have a new post but every time I go to your blog it is the same post but dated different is there a problem with your blog in blogger cause everything is fine with other blogs just wondering ! Have a good day !

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  21. Pamela, I have just stopped and read your last several posts and learned of you recent loss. I am so very sorry. I understand. I've been there. I am the eldest of two and I am 'the strong one'. I have buried a step-father, my beloved step-mother, and my own adored parents. My mother's death was just a year ago. Know that your being 'fine' will have its ups and downs and know, too, that you have so many people who care and are praying for you.

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  22. Being an only child must have it's own set of unique subtleties of emotions when one's mother passes..it mostly depends on the kind of relationship you had with her and what she showed you in times of need..how she handled loss leaves it's mark...my thoughts are with you..

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  23. Pamela, I am so happy to hear that you had a little rest and some relaxation.

    There is not pain like the loss of a parent. I am sending you a virtual hug, and hope that you know that in addition to your friends and the song writer that there are many her in blogland that wish you well and send our thoughts and prayers.

    Take care, Elizabeth

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  24. May this new year be filled with blessing upon blessing for you and those you hold dear. Thank you for making this world a more beautiful place.

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  25. Pamela, I am deeply sorry for your loss of your mother. To read your post brought me to tears. I could feel what you were writing. Just after my mother died I was told my dog might have cancer. If that wasn't enough my mother-in-law was also dying of cancer during this time. I didn't know why God would give me so much to deal with? Like Edward, Buffy was fine in the end and life goes on. It's been 3 years now on New Years Day since mom left. I still have those moments that I cry. I suppose it's good, its a constant reminder of how important she was in my life.

    There will be sad times but I believe you when you say you are 'fine' now. Your songwriter did a beautiful thing by taking you away to heal.
    xx Deb
    P.S. - One of my favortie television programs here in Scotland is 'As Time Goes By.' Jean and Lionel I adore.

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  27. The sea has such restorative power doesn't it? And dogs are great healers. I am so pleased you are feeling better now. You have been through a lot.

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  28. Sounds unpleasant and glad you got a great place to recover in.

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  29. So, so sorry for your loss. And am happy Edward is fine.

    Jeanette

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  30. The past couple of weeks have been a blur as I dealt with losing my dear sweet dad, so I had missed this post. The memorial service was last Saturday and two days later and a universe away I am back in 7th grade telling everyone who asks how I am that "I'm fine." And I am--aren't I? Time will tell...

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  31. Dear Pamela, I hadn't visited since the holidays and have been catching up with you this evening, and I'm so very sorry to hear about your mother, and of the struggles you've gone through. Thank heavens for your caring husband, loving dogs, the sea, and your beautiful book. You gave the very best of yourself in writing it, and it seems to be giving back to you now in warm hugs from thankful readers..comforting gifts during such a strenuous time. It's lovely to see God in the meaningful details of what a heart needs.

    So glad Edward is well, Ginger has those same type of lumps and hers have been benign so far as well. Might have to start calling her Lumpy though (Picasso's Doxie's name was Lump, she'd be in good company).
    Praying for continued true fineness...♥
    xoxo Jessica

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  32. Hi, I was very impressed to read this article and also carry over into this story. It is the impression of a very deep and dear, thank you for sharing, greetings

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