at a loss

Tonight I lingered in the card aisle.
There is no such thing as a good sympathy card. They all pretty much suck. Although, the ones that say the least seemed to be the best. So I grabbed a clean white one with as few words as possible and had Owen help me pick out some flowers.

I then reluctantly rang the neighbors doorbell. Reluctant because I didn't know what to expect on the other end. One of my neighbors woke up to find her husband dead in his chair a few days ago. There is no card for that.

Her mom answered the door and ushered me and my children inside. I had secretly hoped that no one would answer and that I could leave my pretty flowers and sad card on the porch. Instead I found my self wisked through the latest rennovations, the herb garden and eventually landed on funeral plans. Another neighbor showed up and we all chatted almost easily about recipes, Jesus, schools and ashes.

The only thing awkward was that this woman was recently widowed. You could see her shudder a bit when someone used that word, but she quickly changed the subject. Part of me was secretly thankful that this woman was not a wreck. I don't do well with tears. But this all seemed a bit weirder. Obviously, it had not sunk in. I wanted to get my children home and in the bath tub and away from emotionally awkward conversations about dead husbands and basil all in the same sentence.

Instead we rambled on, and I promised to bring warm baked things on the day of the funeral, and I listened and commented and nodded in all the appropriate places. Owen spun in the office chair while she talked about her electric bill. I tried as hard as I could to get over the awkward and admire her new countertops. This is what she needed. To ramble. To talk about anything. To pretend just for a few minutes that things were the same. That there is not a funeral to plan. That instead there are simply bills to pay, and flowerbeds to weed, and lingering converations with the neighbors. We filled the hour with lots of words. None of which really said very much.

A plain white card tossed casually on the kitchen table said all the ones that mattered.


Margie said...

Michelle, this is very touching to read. You described it so well, the oddness of regular conversation, but the need for it, too, the way it forces the reality of loss away until its owner can assimilate it in full.

It reminds me of a similar post I read. You might enjoy this one, too:

Incidentally, she moved her blog from Blogspot to Wordpress. It's on my links under the name "Apple Pie, Anyone?" You might like it.