My boss told me that she told everyone I was on bereavement leave because people kept asking where I was. Then she asked if it was okay that she did that. Before I left we had a conversation where she said she knew I was a private person, although Dad was still alive then. Maybe his death changed things more fundamentally than I could have thought. 

I’ve tried writing about my issues regarding privacy here, but it seemed hypocritical to broach the subject in this public space. But here I am again, so it must be meaningful. Besides, I’m the one writing. These are my thoughts and my story, and when I’m here I don’t have to assure anyone but myself. What a nice feeling.

I’ve said it before, and I don’t think I can say it enough–the worst thing about grief is the added weight of the expectations of near-strangers. Many people have been kind and considerate. They’ve politely offered condolences and let me ramble on or be silent. They have been quietly understanding of the remoteness of the land I’ve been transported to. They have been there when I called on them for things that seem unrelated, and in doing so they have filled in the gaps that appeared over night. 

And then there are the rest. 

I don’t spend time trying to figure out what Dad would think of them. I already know. He’d appreciate that they were trying, but would inwardly back away from them. I know, because that’s how I am. He never wanted people to feel sorry for him. He wanted people to appreciate him and his contribution. Up until the end he did things his own way, and I find myself automatically calling his spirit to mind as I try to shake off the sticky sentimentality of that particular over-friendly tone of voice that accompanies that specific way of asking, “how are you feeling?”

I’m not against people asking how I am. I am against conversations, lopsided by what is unsaid. I am against pity in all of its seductive, dehumanizing forms. I am against the pain I am suffering being turned into office fodder. Because I’m not okay with people I don’t trust knowing about the white hot hurt in my center.

But these are things I can’t change. And I am already stronger and better for having lived this. 

I forgive and I let go and in doing so I grow closer to what I love in each passing moment.


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e lewis

I'm a bibliophile with a love of social justice theory living in the Pacific North West trying to figure life out.

4 thoughts on “Public”

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