This third and final (as long as we don’t think of anymore) installment in the FAQ series and it is attempting to address the most frequently asked and the most difficult to answer of the questions…
How are you doing?
There really isn’t any way to answer this adequately without spending hours describing the complexity of our emotions. The simple answer that I have most recently been giving people is “shitty, but we are hanging in there.” We lay somewhere between a shrug of the shoulders and a multi-session trip to a psychiatrist’s office. What I really want to tell people are things that I wouldn’t publicly say most of the time, and certainly wouldn’t publicly write (but there is this Marsellus quote from Pulp Fiction…). I’m not even sure that I will be able to do a good job writing it down in this posting, but after sitting on this topic for a couple of weeks I decided to give it a shot.
A lot of the time, we realize that people ask this question in one of two situations: 1) it’s just what you ask when you see someone (akin to the grocery store clerk saying ‘how’s it going’). There really is little expectation of a completely honest answer in most of the situations where you find yourself on the receiving end, as the question itself lives more in the greeting side of the language than it does in the interrogative side. 2) you really want to find out the answer to the question, but the answer may be too hard to hear or share. This is largely where we find ourselves, and it’s not meant to sound like we don’t care about the answer, rather it is a simple reality that there isn’t a good way to express the difficulty of it.
Given the walls of the situation, there are several things that are certain….we are taking care of ourselves. We are talking with people here in the hospital about things that we aren’t talking with you about. We are doing pretty damn good as a couple. We disappear deep within ourselves, and other times can’t stand to be in our own skin. We are managing being parents of two very different lives. We smile and even laugh sometimes. We cry – a lot. We don’t get enough sleep (but what new parent does?). We are physically and emotionally drained by the end of the day. And while we wish that you could understand some of this, we hope and pray that you will never understand any of this. Sometimes we are a little stir crazy and sick of being in the hospital, however there is never a time that we wish we were anywhere but either with Liam or Ezra.
One of the things that has become really prominent recently is that we are desperately wanting a return to our normal lives. This may seem like an obvious thing, but for the first few weeks we found ourselves so focused on what was happening that it really didn’t seem like there was much outside of these walls. However, after being here for nearly five weeks, we just want our bed and our kitchen and our shower and our TV and our coffee and our forks and our ketchup and our moments throughout the day with each other. But we also know that it will never be the same as it was, or as it was supposed to be…and that weighs heavy.
To answer that we are ‘okay’ or that we are ‘hanging in there’ is to somehow try to give you an answer that is short and textable, but holds a lot more behind it. The meanings of those two things are almost completely different than if we were to say them under a different circumstance, but the reality is that they still hold a certain level of appropriateness. There are a few things that allow us to be ‘okay’ and to ‘hang in there’….our family, our friends (including CTE and CRFD), and the staff here. Without the love and support that we get from you, there is no way that things would be nearly as ‘okay’ as they are.
Please keep asking how we are doing. It’s very comforting to know that you care enough to want to ask the question, just also understand when the answer is a shrug of the shoulders or a simple ‘fine’.