Today was the first day of Women's Bible Study and I worked the registration table with a woman who used to be my table leader about 3 years ago. I've seen her around church and occasionally would see a post or two online. When there was a lull in the flow of excited women checking to see if we received their registration, there it came....BOOM! I call these moments landmines. She asked me "how my son was doing." That moment was as if time froze for a second and I could hear my heart beat, like it does in the movies at a dramatic moment. I was so hurt, shocked and confused in a matter of 2 seconds flat. I think I felt more horrible for her asking that question then she did herself. The last thing I wanted to do was for her to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, so I said what sounded like slow motion talking, "he passed away last year." She apologized but continued the awkward conversation by asking how. I mustered up everything I had inside to answer her and told her, but when it came out, it sounded way too bubbly. To me. Thank goodness more women walked up to check-in so the conversation quickly came to a halt.
You see, after you lose a loved one, especially a child, your emotions are so raw and all over the place that you can't help but practice any and every scenario that you could possibly think would ever come up over and over until your response is memorized. That's why 18 months after Nate went home to the Lord, I wasn't expecting that blow-to-the-gut of a question. Even with all that practice of what I'd say when someone would ask me about Nathan, I can't help but think I failed miserably with how I handled it. I kept replaying the conversation in my head. I felt like I dishonored my son by answering too bubbly, I'm starting to wonder if the woman thinks I didn't care about my son because i answered so nonchalant. All day I felt condemnation.
I'm not saying I should have been all emo when answering, or that I want pity from every person who talks about my son. That's not it at all. I feel that I put her feelings above mine or my sons. And as a grieving mom, you don't want to ever feel like you would do or say anything that would disrespect your loved one.
Luckily at work I have a few friends that can come down to my level and meet me where I'm at to comfort me. I work with my son's friend who happens to be named Nathan as well. It's a good name. Nate B. graduated from high school a year after my Nathan and went to college back east around the corner and up the highway from my son's college. Now he is the Junior High pastor at the same church where I work. He regularly comes into my office and chats with me, checks in to see how I'm holding up or will just sit and drink his coffee out of his llama mug. I love that about him.
Anyway, we had a conversation and he reassured me that I probably wasn't as bubbly with my friend earlier as my mind thinks I was. He told me that he has a lot of respect for me for putting my friends feelings into consideration in a difficult situation and told me not to be so hard on myself. Nate B. followed that up with the question if I have ever seen Silver Linings Playbook. I told him no and he basically said I should try to look for the silver lining when I find myself feeling like I'm in a valley or a dark pit. Also, that my Nathan knows I love him.