Over the years I have come to realize just how terrible I am at handling any sort of tragic situation. Each time, an insane amount of nervous energy washes over me.
I can speak in public until I am blue in the face, but something about tragic events completely stops me in my tracks.
I can tell you of a few instances which I have handled poorly:
When I lived in Lake Tahoe I used to babysit our neighbor's children. I loved those two little boys so much. Over the years, I watched them grow up.
A few years ago, I found out the younger of the two died in a tragic car accident. I was devastated. I did not know what to do. I had no idea how to handle the situation. Should I call? Should I go over and visit? I did not know what to do. I was wracked with nervousness. I had no idea what I would say to his parents....his brother.
What did I end up doing? I sent a card and tried to express my deepest, sincere sympathy. Not good enough. As I said, this was a few years ago. Have I been over since? Have I showed my face. No. The answer is no!
I feel terrible about the way I handled the situation.
Another example of how poorly I handle traumatic occurrences:
My neighbor's husband had cancer and there was a time when he was doing much better. The two of them were walking by my house one day and I asked how they were doing. He said something like, "well other than the cancer being back, great." I froze, I did not know what to say...I said nothing. No worse than that, I acted like I did not hear exactly what he said because we were many, many feet apart from each other. I shut the door and was so disappointed in myself. I was so upset about the news. I was so incredibly upset by the way I handled myself!
Once he passed, I walked over and basically shoved a card and flowers into my neighbor's hands. I hugged her and had no words.
I have another neighbor whose wife has cancer. I found it so hard to inquire about her. Not because I don't care, it's honestly quite the opposite. I always wanted to, but could not as much as I desired.
I have now been forced to “kind of” know how to handle future experiences of the people around me. There is nothing like going through something yourself, and experiencing how you best want to be treated.
I have learned so much. I constantly sit in amazement as so many step up and help us in countless ways. I picture myself in your shoes and know that in the past I could never have handled "us" in the way you have. Not because I did not want to, but because I always had a way of standing right smack in my very own way.
I know that everyone handles things differently and people have different levels of getting offended. Overall, I honestly think people mean well in whatever way they express their condolences. I think if someone says the wrong thing, it is more out of nervousness and unease rather than anything else.
I have truly appreciated everyone who has come to us, in whatever form, and expressed their sympathy for our situation. I also completely understand how some keep their distance or say very little.
I am so full of regret for the way I have handled myself in past situations, but have grown up and learned (the hard way) the way I hope to help people in the future.
I want to express my heartfelt apology to Jill, Rick, Brandon, Eugene, Kamilah, Ruth and Nita.