I saw a meme about chronic pain the other day. It told my story. I didn’t save it so I will ad lib.
Chronic pain works like this:
“Hey, how are you?” [Assesses current state before responding. Thinks, “How am I? In pain, that’s how I am.” Hesitates. Then, responds:]
“Okay, how are you?”
The next day, runs into the same person, who says, again,
“Hey, how are you?” [Stops, turns inward, thinks about how am I? Realizes: Still in pain. Says:]
“Oh, I’m okay, and you?”
When my mother lay dying, I slogged my way through court in Kansas City all week, Monday through Friday morning. Then I barreled across Missouri to relieve my St. Louis siblings so they could tend to their own lives for forty-eight hours. People would ask, “How’s your Mom?” Most of the time, I would respond with some vaguely polite and grateful platitude. Towards the end of a brutal year, in the weeks before she passed, I would snap, “She’s dying, but so nice of you to ask.”
Talk is cheap.
Today my co-worker stopped at the door to my office and said in gentle tones, “You took a little tired, did you have a bad morning too?” We briefly commiserated with one another. She had an allergy-induced sinus headache. I had fallen and struggled to get off the floor. After a short exchange about these burdens, we got to work. But for the rest of the day, we treated each other with kindness. No other words had to be spoken.
I’m not sure what any of this has to do with my core mission here in this venue, but sometimes experiences wave their hands begging me to articulate them. Take what you will from my musings. If you find nothing of benefit to take, then leave something. Your own words, maybe, or scattered rose petals. I won’t mind.
It’s the twenty-first day of the sixty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.