There are two questions that seem so benign, but lately have become the bane of my existence.
Question One: “How are you?” or alternative.
You know, it’s one thing when it’s coming from the people who know what’s been going on and who are truly asking for a real answer.
It’s another coming from people who don’t know, or don’t know me. As Simone Grant recently pointed out on her blog, this is often a superfluous inquiry. There is only one right answer, and, in my case, it’s usually not the honest one.
The honest answer leads to a story I don’t want to tell you and one you don’t actually want to hear. Because, more often than not when we ask this question, we don’t really mean it if the answer isn’t “fine – how are you?”
Question Two: “What happened?”
I am really starting to hate this one. Here’s the thing. Asking me what led to my sister’s brain injury is a pretty natural reaction to “[My sister] has sustained a very serious brain injury.” I get it. The problem is… the answer isn’t straightforward. More importantly, and despite my own [buried-now-but-I'll-deal-with-it] anger directed at her, I still want to protect my sister’s privacy.
It’s amazing to me how quickly events in our lives, no matter how awful and painful and emotional, turn into gossip. Turn into something we just can’t wait to tell someone else.
Especially something like …. “… did you hear she tried to commit suicide??“