Don’t wish, don’t start;
wishing only wounds the heart.
-I’m Not That Girl, Idina Menzel (Wicked Soundtrack)
I don’t handle bad news well.
Sometimes- ok, most times- I don’t handle it at all. I shut down, go numb. It’s my defense mechanism. I did that when my mother called me at work to say that we’d be taking my dad off of life support, I did that when I found out a close friend died this summer, and I did it again yesterday after hearing some things that I still haven’t fully processed.
But before shutting down, I may have temporarily gone postal and flipped out on someone who just took it in stride. I know that I didn’t plan on saying what I did, but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t mean what I said. I meant every word.
It was a bit unnerving to hear it all, for a second time. At one point, I swung my head around to visually confirm something with the person I flipped out on, and found him watching me. As if he was waiting for me to react again. He is probably the only one who got a true read on what I was feeling. And that was accidental.
As it was, the giver of the bad news shifted his glance to me a few times and held it there, like he was trying to read me. My expression never changed the entire time he spoke; of that, I am certain. I won’t even pretend to think that he was worried about my reaction.
The whole situation reminded me of a time where he was the one who watched over me after my mother made that awful phone call to me six years ago. He knew before I did that we’d be terminating my dad’s life support. I only found out about this when she told me later that day, on the way to the hospital.
You see, it turns out my mother made two phone calls that day. I was the second one. She called and spoke with him first because she wasn’t sure what I’d do when she called me and told me what we’d be doing. She wanted to be called if I fell apart and became an emotional, inconsolable mess.
I never did thank him for what he did for us, but I think about that moment every so often, wanting to acknowledge it. It’s never the right time. That ship has probably sailed around the globe several times over by now.
I want to thank the person who was looking out for me yesterday. (You know who you are.) You didn’t have to tell me what you did, so appreciate that you did so.