Since Jeff died (god, I use those three words a lot) I have had a many moments that have just left me with a 'Huh? How can someone ask/do/say/act that way?' I have empathy and understanding for the people who do this most of the time since I myself have had to insert my foot in my mouth often over my life. BUT there are times that I just feel the need to shake my head and wonder at the motivation behind some incidents.
While searching for a Fuckles-proof kennel at one of the pet stores in town, an attendant came to give me a hand. I explained that the dog is having some issues with seperation anxiety since the recent death of my husband followed closely by the death of my other dog. She kindly gave me a hug (although I seem to now be immune to the tears that used to accompany any sentence that involved Jeff and death...it is just my life and I am used to saying it unfortunately.) She helped me pick out a fully metal kennel and we continued to talk about things that could help Freak-les feel more comforted in my absence.
I was explaining to her that this destructive behaviour has baffled me. That he has been a pretty good dog up until the death of Jeff and Eli. That he was annoying but sweet and great with kids (as I gestured to Liv and Briar as they looked in the window of the grooming salon with Robo's help).
Seemingly out of the blue, she says to me, "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" To which I agree with trepidation thinking that she'll ask me the standard, "How did he die?" or maybe "Do you want me to tell you that you have a bean stuck in your front teeth?" But no, she says, "Is this someone new in your life?" ......My brain goes "Huh?" I say, "Who? What?....Him?! Dear lord, NO. He's like....an uncle to the kids and has always been around." I laugh uncomfortably and wonder at the impetus behind this question. I am torn between laughing hysterically at the idea or feeling indignant. I am guessing she sensed my shock and spewed out some ridiculous explanation involving the dog feeling threatened by another person in the house. Bloody hell.
It seems to me that some people have preconceived notions of what a widow looks like. What her actions should be. That my life is their business. Maybe these people would lack the tact and sensitivity to know what is appropriate conversation in any situation and maybe I am feeling overly sensitive and presumptive but, dude, he could have been my brother or my boss. And even if he had been someone 'new in my life' it wouldn't have been any of her business....although I opened the door when I agreed to answer the personal question....I still find it funny....
A more funny incident happened when I went to the drugstore to fill Freckles prescription for antidepressants. While handing me the medication, the pharmacist laughingly explained to me that I shouldn't leave the medication where the dog can get it in case he's having suicidal thoughts. That it may leave him with a dry mouth or constipation. I asked the pharmacist if he often filled prescriptions for canines. He said that while they often did, he had never seen one for antidepressants for a dog. Laughing, he asked me what I did to the dog to make him so upset. I looked at him and said, "Well, first my husband died. Then my other dog died." I think I could have just left it with 'my husband died'. He looked at me with a completely straight stare and I could almost see him replay our conversation with horror. No smile. No hint of his previously expressed sense of humour. "Oh", he says, "You can pay at the front counter." I felt badly for his discomfort but wondered at the society we live in where it is 'wrong' to laugh when faced with hard times. That stoic faces and hushed speech are used when talking about those we have so loved and are now gone from us.
Both of these incidents have reminded me of people's prejudices and judgments regarding others. We all do this. Since Jeff's death, I have learned that these preconceived opinions hurt more than I knew before. But I also am realizing that Ellen Degeneres is so wise when she says, "Other people's opinions are none of my business." I am trying to live my life in a way that helps my kids get through these hard times, puts a smile on all of our faces and protects our future and not worry what anyone else believes is 'right'. I am learning to trust that I know what is 'right' for us. And this may not be right for anyone else.
Here's the story.
3 months ago