School is in session! I have looked forward to this day for over two months. Not because I want Anneke gone, because I don’t, but because with the house empty of daughter and S.O. I get to write without distraction.
This past weekend, Labor Day Weekend, I really labored. I cleaned the house, washed the floors, weeded the garden, did three loads of laundry start to finish, heck, I even washed the car.
I did all of this in order to remove any temptation that might lure me from my desk. As much as I love what I do, the last time I sat down to write a serious piece I decided that the floor underneath the refrigerator needed attention. After eight years of neglect, I chose that moment to wash that grimy piece of flooring.
It was pretty gross under there and I found a drumstick, four very shriveled grapes, a yoyo, and countless really disgusting dust bunnies.
But the fact remains that the floor under the refrigerator could have waited another two hours, two hours that should have been spent in front of my computer.
However, this morning, even with all of my preparations, I am distracted none-the-less.
A prominent and well-loved figure in our town died last week of lung cancer and her community has asked me to meet with them because I am a widow and I have walked the widow’s walk. They are concerned for her young husband.
I wonder what they want to hear? How to help him? How to talk with him? What to do?
And what can I tell them that might help? Because really, I want to say that there is nothing that they can do that will help. Nothing can fix what is wrong.
I looked to books and experts, nine years ago when I was in his position because I was sure that there was something out there that could make me feel better. There HAD to be something, right? After spending many dollars I found that the answer to getting better was inside of me. In order to feel better, I was going to have to be willing to feel bad for a long, long time.
When I try to fix someone’s pain, and I have tried (always unsuccessfully) to fix my daughter Anneke’s pain, it is usually because I can’t stand to sit with how it feels to be near someone who is hurting so much. I don’t like the feeling so I offer them tissues, or a hug, or I desperately try to make them feel better by sharing some of my almost useless wisdom. (You would think I would know better by now.)
I try to remember that when others tried to make me feel better, way back when, I didn’t like it and I resisted all attempts. I needed to feel bad.
So today, I feel like the expert who knows nothing except…
1. Don’t offer help. Just give it. Mow the lawn, make soup, take the kids for the night.
2. Don’t try to fix what can’t be fixed.