15 May 2006

Frequent Conversation

I have this conversation a lot with people who don't know GH or don't know that he's sick:

PERSON: Oh, you're having twins! That's so exciting.
ME: Yes, I'm very excited and a little nervous.
PERSON: Oh, I"m sure. It must be overwhelming. But can you count on your husband to help you out?
ME: (pause) Weeeeelllll, I have the most wonderful, caring husband in the world, and I know he'll do everything he can to help me.
PERSON: You'll be just fine, then.

Sigh. What I say is true. GH will do everything he can to help me. It's just not worth explaining to people that what he can do is sometimes severely limited by his illness. I do sometimes imagine how people would react if my last line went like this instead:

ME: I have the most wonderful, caring husband in the world, and I'm sure he'll do everything he can to help me. But you see, he has terminal cancer, so he can't always do as much as he'd like.

Imagining reactions to this comment mostly makes me tired. I know it's not my responsibility to protect people from my reality, but mostly I'm protecting myself from what they could say. I can imagine all kinds of dumb replies, mostly because I've heard them already. And dealing with the "ohmygosh I'm so sorry" reactions is tiring, too. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the sympathy, but it's just easier to smile and nod and move on and get what I need emotionally from family and friends. The real problem is that there's no good response, nothing anyone--least of all the strangers and acquaintances with whom I have this conversation--can say to take away my anger, fear, sadness, and despair.

7 comments:

OTRgirl said...

Sigh. Yeah. So NOT worth going into detail in a short conversation with someone who isn't part of your support network. People aren't comfortable with pain and joy overlapping as closely as they do in your life right now!

I'm glad the babies look big and healthy. But, yikes, so many doctor appointments between the two of you!

soralis said...

I don't blame you for not sharing all your details, they are yours and what you choose to do with them is up to you alone.

Glad things are going well with the twins. I wish you the very best, take care.

weigook saram said...

You're right, it's not a conversation you want to have with someone you don't know very well. Sometimes the "I'm so sorry" reactions are hard to deal with because it's abstract for them, and you can tell they don't really know what to say.

Glad the twins are healthy. I remember being hooked up to the monitors and hearing every little kick. It made it all seem very real.

Claire said...

Oh, it must be just so hard sometimes. I wish it were different for you. I would be angry and feel despair, too. And you're right, casual conversants are not the people (probably) who can help.
I'm sorry, Snick.

Dorcasina said...

Oh God. I hear you completely.

Equally tiresome: the "Oh you are so brave, I could never do what you do, how do you do it" refrain.

Again, it's always well meant.

But it's exhausting to be reminded of what an effort one's life is, and how far from "normal."

Bless the people (including our incredible blog friends) who know when to say some version of "I want to say something because I am overwhelmed for you and with you but I have no idea what to say."

For me, hearing that--the more haltingly and inarticulately conveyed--does help, however slightly. It seems to me that people who say that have maybe, in some tiny way, grasped the enormity of fear and loss and grief and resilience and managed to share it with me for just a second.

It's nice to feel not so terribly terribly alone.

So eager to meet the twins, and hope GH is continuing to defy expectations.

Leggy said...

I know my circumstances were different than yours, but I can so relate to this. It was that look of horror on their face that I had the hardest time with. It just go easier to smile and pretend all was fine.
I like how Dorcasina put it- their reaction (horror, disbelief, "you're so brave", etc.) makes you realize how far from normal your life is.
I'm glad the babes are doing well.

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