Where the Day Takes You

The current crop of young clerks seems to be even less gracious than the last couple of generations. Back in the day, it used to be that clerks thanked customers for shopping at the store. Then it got to the point where clerks expected us to thank them for deigning to wait on us. Actually, we’re still to that point. I wish I could break myself of the habit of saying “thank you” to someone I just gave a fistful of dollars. But I was a touch rude today, so perhaps that offset the thanks.

The clerk, as they all do now, told me “Have a good one” in a bored tone as she handed me my change.

What does that even mean, “Have a good one?” So I asked her. She just stared at me as if I were Homo Unsapiens Unsapiens, then finally responded, “Day?”

So why not say “Have a good day”? “One” and “day” each have a single syllable, so these clerks are not saving any time by using “one” instead of the more concrete word. Perhaps it’s that “one” is comprised of soft sounds, and “day” is not, which might make it infinitesimally harder to say.

Oh, well, it’s not my world anymore. My world is one of precise speech, words that mean something, people who care not just about words but about those they come in contact even if only for a moment.

I suppose it’s foolish of me to waste time and words on such trivial matters as to the meaning of a meaningless phrase when the rest of the world is resorting to desperate measures and coping with trauma, but for the most part, you have to go where the day takes you and deal with day you are dealt.

And the hand I’ve been dealt today is a good one. It’s such a beautiful day that even a barely civil clerk couldn’t ruin it.

The day after tomorrow is Memorial Day. If you’re travelling this weekend, please take it easy.

And if you want to play a silly game, count how many movies titles I used in this blog.

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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.

Building Hopes and Creating Dreams

And so ends the worst year of my life.

Last year was a time of soul-shattering loss, grief, and strange blessings. It was a time of despair and self-realization, transition and adjustment. But of course, you know all that — I’ve made no secret of my ordeal, chronicling every painful stage of my journey. Many people endure worse traumas than the death of a soul mate, and they continue living without whimpering, which has made me feel a bit self-indulgent and whiny with my grief bloggeries, yet that was never my intention. The impact of grief after a major loss seems to be one more thing that has been discounted in our discount culture, and I simply wanted to tell the truth.

Oddly, I still don’t know the truth of it. It seems unreal at times. Was I really that woman? That woman who watched a man slowly die, who wanted the suffering to end, yet whose love was so ineffectual she couldn’t make him well or take away a single moment of his pain? That woman so connected to another human being she still feels broken nine months after his death? That woman who screamed the pain of her loss to the winds?

I’ve always considered myself a passionless woman, so how can that woman be me? During periods when I don’t feel the weight of his absence (I never feel his presence, though sometimes his absence feels normal, as if he’s simply in another room), during periods of emotional calm, my stoic side rules, making my grief feel fake, as if it’s something I’m doing to make myself seem important. Yet other times the desperate need to go home to him, to see him one more time, claws at me, tearing me apart.

Making the situation even more unreal, I can barely remember what he looked like — I do not think in images, so it’s understandable (though distressing) that I have no clear image of him in my mind. Even worse, I don’t have a photo that matches what I remember of him. (The only one I have was taken fifteen years ago.)

Nor do I have a clear sense of time. Sometimes it feels as if he died just a couple of months ago. Sometimes it feels like years. The demarcation between our shared life and my solitary life was once so stark it was like the edge of a cliff. All I could see was the past and what I had lost. The living I have done in the past nine months has blurred that edge, adding to the sense of unreality.

I have learned much this year. I learned the importance of importance. If there is nothing of importance in your life, you have to find something and make it important. I learned the importance of goals, even if it’s only the goal of getting through one more day. I learned the importance of hope, though hope for what I still don’t know, but that is part of the journey – building hopes, creating dreams, finding reasons to live.

And so begins a new year.