I get asked many questions during the day. “What’s up?”, “Can I get you anything else?”, “What would you like?”, “Large or extra-large?”, “Can you please stop bothering me?”, “Why do you have to be so weird?”, “What’s with all the stalking you do?”….
You know.. normal things.
However, in my life, there is one question that beats them all. One question that if I am never asked again in my entire life, I will be so perfectly fine that I might do a dance. Granted, I would have to be dead in order for me to know whether it happened or not, and a dancing dead body might freak out the locals.. but I’d be cool with that.
Digression at it’s finest folks…
Anyway, that question is, “How are you doing?”. Now, this sounds like a normal question, I know. But let me put this into the context for you. At a funeral, or after someone passes, everyone pours out of the woodwork and is overly concerned with your well-being. Genuine, I know, so I don’t hold it against them. But every one of them walks up with sympathy in their face and espouses to you that same question.
“How are you doing?”
I’m civil. Or at least I lie to myself and tell myself that myself is civil. Myself. (it just needed one more myself). So, I smile and act polite and recite the words, “I’m fine” or some other combination of words that means about the same thing.
I know I sound jaded. Let’s not beat around the bush. I am. Most likely. Never been diagnosed by a doctor, so I’m not particularly sure if you can self diagnose that particular prognosis. But, after the amount of family members and close friends who had died on my over the last 10 years, I have gotten a bit tired of that question. (by the way, I stopped counting after 15)
“How are you doing?”
It’s like this cannon-shot going off next to my ear that I just want to look at the person right in the face and go…”Gee, I don’t know. My (insert close family member here) just died, someone who I’m never going to be able to see again and only have the memories of them to hold onto. It only happened a few days ago and I have been trying to take care of taking care of their last wishes, so I haven’t had time to process my loss yet, but, hey, I just want to thank you for checking on me and reminding me that I just lost someone dear to me and haven’t really worked out how that all makes me feel as of yet. So you want to know how I’m doing… I’m FINE!”
Granted that is exactly how I answer that question.. minus everything before the last two words. And without the capitalization.
Like I said.. Jaded. I get that.
These days, when I am placed in the position of the person offering condolences, I have a completely different view-point of what that looks like. I no longer ask “How are you doing?”, I just walk up, stand quietly and just let them know I am there. Sometimes I offer something encouraging like a hug, a “hey, or a “love you bro” kind of thing (bro-dette if it’s a she). I talk a bit about the person who passed, if I knew them, remembering some good times. If I didn’t, I will ask a question or two to get the person to share with me a little about their memories. I usually conclude with something like.. “sucks man” before I walk away.
However, there is one thing I will never say to someone in this situation. And for the love of God can we please take this phrase out of our vocabulary… “Call me if you need anything.”
Cause, yeah, in the middle of all of this.. that’s exactly what I was thinking.. who can I call if I need help. Oh, the 8 billion people who have told me to call them. Seriously!?!?
Instead… how about we change that to…”Hey, I’ll call you in the next few days.” or “Hey, I’m bringing dinner over tomorrow.” or.. something like that.
Ok.. I seriously could rant about that for another 1500 words… but.. so not the point right now.
So after reading all that…
How are you doing?
(and if you don’t get the sarcasm in that… /facepalm)
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Plead the Fifth.”