I've been prepping clients to testify for litigation for over ten years now. This can be a lawyer's worst trial nightmare if your client is a talker and can't bring themselves to believe that things like "I don't know", "I don't remember" or "Can you ask that again?" are all legitimate answers. When you force yourself to create answer when you really aren't sure can be dangerous ground.
I think it is something inherent in our DNA as people that when we are asked a question, we feel forced to give an answer. In this day of quick "Hi. How are yous?", I don't want to give a long drawn out answer and the person hearing the response doesn't really want to listen to a dissertation about my problems either. We have settled for frosting covered niceness. Civility without the depth. I use to be a huge abuser of this trait. I would ask "How are you?" and hardly wait for the answer. I find this almost impossible to do anymore.
So I've started taking my own advice.
When I see someone in real life that I haven't seen since I lost my brother and they ask me "How are you?", I say the only thing I know how to say and be truthful:
"I don't know."
It is not a false statement. I really don't know how I am most days. Many mornings are blasted with the humdrum of soccer practice, dirty dishes, laundry, work and the daily functions that keep our little family in a rhythm. My kids need a steady beat of rhythm in normal circumstances. But these days, we all need even more than usual.
Some days are a fight to get out of bed. I want to lay down and cry and scream and break every piece of glass I can get my hands on. There are moments of sheer delight watching my kids throw themselves headlong into summer's glory and yet there are moments when I struggle to be around so much merriment. Moments some days are filled with thanksgiving for small gifts, like a sunrise or a new flower growing and some moments when I list my things for which I am grateful, I stare a blank paper.
The truth is that there is a void in my life. A void that can only be filled by a six foot tall, gorgeously blue-eyed little brother who use to text me that I needed to cut back on the Twinkies because my butt was bigger than the last time he saw me. I've never wanted to be called fat so badly in all my life.
It is always going to hurt. There will always be a missing piece to my heart and family events will forever be a touch of sweet and sour.
My soul knows all the appropriate things to say to someone going through grief like me.
"He's in a better place."
"You will see him again."
"This life isn't forever."
And there are days that I can give myself a pep talk long enough that it works.
But for the days that I can't stop crying at ridiculous country songs or seeing his things in my house, I've given myself the grace to say "I don't know" how I am today and to believe that it is an honest answer.