Thank you to everyone who left a comment or said a silent prayer for us. I can't tell you how much it means to know other people are thinking warm thoughts for our family during this situation. It really is grace to watch others offer support, kind words, or a happy memory of my dad. I had to laugh when I read Liz and Sherri's comments. I had totally forgotten about the scrunchie tree he made all of my roommates in college (which is essentially a long, tapered piece of wood with a base, so we could keep our scrunchies nice and organized. I told you he was handy). Smiling is hard at times like these, and I truly believe people live on when memories are shared, so thank you.
Speaking of smiling, I'm starting to realize that this subject elicits a different reaction from different people. I'd say for about 99% of the population, the reaction is appropriate: condolences, empathy, a squeeze on the shoulder or a big hug. But for some other people, I just look at them like, "Really? Did that seriously just come out of your mouth?"
Best example so far is Ray the Trainer. He's the guy that does the boot camp class at the gym. About a month ago, I caught up with him after class and asked if he does private training. He does. I only wanted to see him for three sessions, just to get some new ideas and workout tips, and while the man is clearly a genius at fitness (7 Iron-men and counting), he has about three brain cells when it comes to the rest of life. And possesses the empathy of ceramic tile.
So yesterday, I wasn't even sure I should go to the gym. I was crying in the car - which turned into yelling at myself in the car - which I'm sure spooked the drivers next to me. (You know how it is: "Stop crying! Pull it together! You are acting like a crazy person! ::sniff, sniff, wail.:: Baw-haaa!" [that was me crying. I am like, the ugliest of ugly criers.]) So I walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes and felt like crap, all the time wondering how I was going to make it through a full workout. When I saw Ray, the first thing out of his mouth was, "Chicago! How did you do on your diet?" I looked at him strangely and said, "Fine...in fact, I've lost weight. I just have no appetite right now." He nodded. "How's your dad?" he asked, remembering the reason I cancelled last week.
I teared up for the 300th time that day. "Terminal," I told him mournfully. "He's in hospice." He looked at me with confusion and was silent for several moments. He finally said, "So, wow. Yeah. He's like, gonna die, huh?"
I'm sure I gave him the weirdest look. I managed to spit out, "Yes. He's dying. That's what hospice is," before we started step-ups. He then proceeded to ask me "What in the world is wrong with him?" ("Colon/liver cancer"I replied tersely), was he just not on top of his health (actually, he was very cognizant of his health), and why was there grass falling out of my sneakers? I told him about mowing the lawn, and he then asked me why my dad didn't mow the lawn. Between push-ups, he informed me about his dislike of funerals ("too sad") and the creepy factor of open caskets ("I've seen too many zombie movies.")
I just about exploded. It was like someone had handed this guy a book called, "How to Say Exactly the Wrong Thing When Losing a Loved One" and he was following it to the letter. But then I realized the stupidity of this whole conversation - he just didn't know. My anger simmered and I realized that it was kind of refreshing to not be getting "that look" or told I was going to be okay. Being pitied feels like crap. And thankfully, Ray probably doesn't know how to spell 'pity,' let alone its definition, so there was no worry of that here. He didn't even alter the amount of weight he had me lifting. After awhile, I found myself concentrating more on getting through the mountain climbers and up-downs than on my family situation, which was 1700 miles away and completely out of my control.
I left the gym feeling like a new person. I had smiled - sincerely - for the first time in a long time. I had been successfully able to take my mind off of everything for a solid 45 minutes, and had some nice endorphins coursing through the blood stream. Overall, it was a great relief. So thank you, three-brain-cell Ray. Your ignorance was not only refreshing, but surprisingly therapeutic. And it made for a little dose of unexpected humor.
We leave on Sunday morning for Indiana. Blog will be dark for awhile.