Where do I begin to talk about all the things people have said in the last few months? Maybe under other circumstances words wouldn’t be so impressive, or maybe I wouldn’t be so sensitive to the things people say. But so many things that are otherwise said in innocence elicit an internal reaction for me.
So here goes:
“At least he’s not suffering anymore.” — True. I know it’s true that Michael is no longer in physical pain and I am so thankful for this. But I do want to scream that those of us that are still here without him are suffering plenty.
“He’s in a better place.” — True. I have complete confidence in God that Michael is now in heaven. But he’s left a huge whole here. And most nights I cannot imagine a place I’d rather him be than on the other side of the bed from me.
“You wouldn’t want him to come back.” — (This is often the second line to He’s in a better place.) — Wanna bet? Some days I do want him to come back. Not that I have a choice. But I’m selfish that way. I want to hear his voice again and hold his hand again and I want him to help me with the projects and decisions that have to be made.
“God takes the good ones/young ones/etc. so soon.” — This doesn’t make sense to me. If he was so young and so good it seems like God would need him to be here on earth more than in heaven.
“You’ll see him again one day.” – I believe with all my heart that this is true. But it doesn’t bring much comfort now to think I have to wait 20 or 30 years to see him again.
“How are you?” — (This is not really a bad thing because, you know, how else do you start a conversation?) This is usually accompanied by a look of pity, the head tilted to one side, and the shoulders slumped. There’s no real answer to this question. (Most of the time people don’t really want to know because if you told them the truth you’d send them running.) Sometimes you just say “Fine” or “OK” even though things are far from fine. Sometimes you say “Some days good and some days bad” which at least honestly acknowledges that things aren’t fine but doesn’t begin to express how empty and lonely life can still be. But usually I can still manage this response without the lump in my throat taking over.
“You’re so strong.” – Well, I’m not strong. It may look like I’m strong, but from this side things look pretty weak. I think the only good take-away is that if I look strong to people on the outside maybe it’s Jesus they’re seeing instead of me. Because I feel weak. I feel helpless. I feel pathetic. I feel a hundred different things, but strong is not on the list.
“You’ll get through this.” – This makes it sound like it’s a 10K and you get to the finish line, walk across and then you can go home, put your feet up and it will all be over. You don’t just get through this. I think this is now a part of you for the rest of your life. I can’t imagine a day when I’ll look back and say “I got through that.”
“How’s Michael doing?” – This is when you run into people that don’t know that Michael has died. Now you get to tell them. Plus you get to watch first the shock on their face and then their embarrassment at not knowing. His obituary was in two different newspapers, it was plastered all over Facebook and 800 people came to his funeral service. I have a box of hundreds of cards and I’ve received thousands of emails, texts and messages from all over the world. And, son of a gun, if I don’t run into somebody who doesn’t know. This is probably the worst.
So what would I like people to say? I’m glad you asked. Stay tuned.