In passing, people ask, “How are you,” but they don’t really want to know. What they want to hear is, “I’m doing fine, how are you?”
I am known for telling the truth so if you were to ask me, “How are you doing?” I’m liable to reply, “I’m not okay.” But that’s okay.
It was New Year’s Eve 1999/2000 and while the world waited for the dreaded Y2K bug to crash the world, I was spending a quiet evening at home with the Missus. Shortly before midnight, the phone rang and on the other end a familiar voice informed me that one of my dearest friends had just passed away. This friend was like a second dad to me or maybe closer. Yeah, I would say closer. It seems like that was the first in a never-ending avalanche of losses, a friend here, another friend there, a relative here and more there.
We spend our whole lives trying to be someone or something that we are not. When we are babies, we try not to wet our diapers. Preteens try to be grown up. Teens think they are grown up and try to find a mate, whatever that means. In our early twenties, we try to succeed and amass possessions. By the time we are in our thirties, we think we have arrived and so we try to establish and hold our position in society. When our forties and fifties roll around our mortality becomes apparent. We reminisce and try to slow the momentum. In our sixties, we try to retire and slow down, again, whatever that means. In our seventies, we try to pick up the pace a little so that we do not slow down too much. In our eighties, we try not to fall down and in our nineties, we try not to wet our diapers. Woven throughout all of this is the gain and loss of friends and loved ones.
The sudden loss of a friend or loved one in our teens is incomprehensible and in our twenties and thereon, it’s devastating. Loss upon loss we try to get over the loss and perhaps harden ourselves a little so that hopefully we won’t feel the pain as much next time but the older we get the more we realize that it’s okay to not be okay. There is no deadline for recovery and no defined expectation of what life should be like on the other side of grief if there actually is another side to it at all. With age and experience there comes a gain of understanding, or at least there should be. I would not be so presumptuous as to call it wisdom.
A line to a song I wrote many years ago goes like this, “I’d rather know the loves I’ve lost than to never have known the loves I’ve lost at all.” Simply put, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I miss my friends, Bob and Donna and Marge and Linda and John and…[shaking my head] the list is too long. You can’t feel loss unless you have felt love and I loved them. I miss our fur kids, Fancy, Beaumont, Ruger, Annie, Duchess, and on and on and on until…Buddy. Some days I’m okay I guess and others, I can barely walk from one end of the house to the other without experiencing a memory that brings me to tears. Some little thing might set it off, a song on the radio, an aroma, a creak in the floor or a picture on the wall. With great love comes great loss.
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35
Sometimes there are no other words.
No, I’m not depressed but I’m not okay and that’s okay because it means I still feel, I love, I laugh, I hurt and I still cry. With all that I have experienced in life and with the added toll of great loss, if I was okay, that wouldn’t be okay. Know what I mean?
How are you doing? Are you okay? It’s okay if you’re not.
Usually, in the morning, I’m filled with sweet belonging and everything is beautiful to see. Even when it’s raining, the sound of heaven singing is simply joyful music to me. But sometimes I feel like a sad song, like I’m all alone without you.