An Emotionally Neutral Day

I’m sitting here with a blank “page” in front of me, doing my daily mental scrounge for a blog topic. A reader wants me to write about Grief and Peace, and I will because it’s a great topic, but I need to put it off for a while. Although I’ve been fine during the day, I felt a bit sad the past couple of nights. I’m feeling emotionally neutral at the moment, and I want to keep it that way, so I’m staying away from blogs and books that might turn what was a tiny dent of sadness into a sinkhole of despondency.

For most of my life, I read a book a day. The only vacation from reading I ever took were six or seven years after Jeff died. I started out reading as always, but every book I read set me off on a crying jag. Either a couple got together, which made me sad because Jeff and I were no longer together. Or the couple didn’t get together, which made me sad since Jeff and I were no longer together. Or people died. Whatever happened in a novel — be it gruesome or horrifying, mysterious or charming — set me off, so I stopped reading fiction and didn’t start again until I was housebound after I destroyed my wrist, arm, and elbow. (Which, incidentally, are doing well. Although there is some pain that could be the beginning of the post traumatic arthritis the surgeon promised me, I have full mobility of the wrist though he said I never would. But that was before he understood I would do the exercises he gave me. It shocked him, I think, because he told me almost no one ever did what he asked them to do.)

I am back to reading a book a day, but occasionally one of those endings — togetherness, apartness, or death — get to me. This time it was the togetherness, and I felt sorry for myself at being alone. Not that I mind. I generally prefer being by myself, but sometimes . . . sometimes it does get to me.

It’s not that I want a relationship. I don’t. And I certainly wouldn’t know what to do with a relationship if one came my way. It’s more that the relationship I did have has become nothing more than me talking to photograph.

I’m over that sad spell, probably because I talked it out. (Jeff was always a good listener, but he seems to be even more so now.) To be on the safe side, I made sure all the books I got from the library yesterday were emotionally neutral mysteries or thrillers. (Emotionally neutral because none of those authors ever make me care about their characters.) I’m also writing an emotionally neutral blog today and will save the Grief and Peace piece for another day.

Speaking of going to the library: a couple of times I left without getting a slip that tells me the due date, and both of those times, something happened so that I had to contact the library to make sure everything was okay. The librarian and I joked about that yesterday, and guess what? I left without getting a due date receipt. I sure hope that doesn’t mean there will be a problem because that would sure put a dent in my emotionally neutral day.

One thing did happen that tipped the neutrality a bit — I harvested a few cherry tomatoes! Delicious.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

What is the Point of Being Me?

I walked in the desert today, talking to my deceased life mate/soul mate. (Or maybe I was talking to myself. I’m still not sure to whom I think I’m talking when I’m out there, but it does help me to talk aloud at times — I don’t feel quite so alone.) I was trying to understand my latest upsurge in grief. It doesn’t seem to be tied into an anniversary or a holiday, though it did start on the 4th. Nor does it seem to have resulted from any new or renewed experience. Anyway, there I was, walking, talking aloud, feeling sorry for myself, and I heard myself say, “I’m not much good to anyone, so what is the point of being me?” I stopped in my tracks, arrested by the simple question. What is the point of being me?

For the past two years, ever since his death, I’ve been haunted by the hard questions: Who are we? Why are here? Is this all there is? Where did our loved ones go? Will we see them again? What is the meaning of life, and probably most haunting of all, what is the meaning of death? In all this time, I have never asked: What is the point of being me.

It seems such a simple question, doesn’t it? But here is the truth of it:

Billions of years ago, the universe was born. Through untold eons it learned how to create various life forms, and finally, it created a semblance of a human being. A million years later, our present species came into being, and many thousands of years after that, I was born. I learned to walk and talk, and as I grew, I learned how to communicate ideas rather than just simple needs and wants. Later, I learned how to read, and because of that one skill, I learned way more than I ever could by merely observing. Along the way I learned about love and finally, during the past six years, I learned about dying through watching loved ones struggle with the end of their lives. (I won’t really know about dying until I have the experience, but it does seem as if I have been steeped in death for too many years.)

Here I am today, the culmination of billions of years of learning — a unique individual. So, what is the point of being me?

I’m not sure why the question has caught my imagination, but I’ve found myself smiling at odd moments today. It seems as if finding the right question is as important as finding the right answer, and this appears to be the right question. The meaning of life and especially death is too immense for my mind to grasp, and anyway, finding the answer can’t really help me figure out how I am supposed to live the rest of my life alone or what I am supposed to be doing. Yet suddenly, there it was, my guide to the future — a simple question, specific to me, that no one else can answer.

What is the point of being me?