So, that last bit was a little harsh, yes? These days, I find it's best to get the hardest bits on the table early in the game. It's a fact that's not ever going to change and frankly I don't have enough energy to deal with people who cannot deal with that. The bad news is that's a lot of people. An astounding number of people. During the last three years I've met scores of them and have begun categorizing them in my head. So far, they break down something like this:
1. Happy Girl* – Happy Girl’s whole life is about, you guessed it, being happy. She likes to go to fun places, do fun things, tell funny stories. There’s no room for death in Happy Girl’s world because it is most definitely not fun. Happy Girl disappeared sometime between the accident and the funeral. We haven’t seen her since.
2. Eggshell Girl* – Eggshell Girl cannot bear it. It is just too hard for her and she doesn’t understand how we cope. In truth, she resents that we cope and rarely misses the opportunity to tell us how she wouldn’t be able to do it. She says things like ‘I’d still be in my bed’ and ‘I would have had to quit my job.’ Fortunately, her opportunities to say these sorts of things are rare because what she mostly cannot cope with is seeing us coping.
3. Ostrich Girl* – Ostrich Girl has reality issues. In short, she doesn’t like it. She spends her life pretending that bad things happen only to faraway people or people who deserve it and we are a constant reminder of the absurdity of that belief. Ostrich Girl doesn’t always avoid us but she avoids the topic or anything remotely related (motherhood – her own included – , traffic, college, etc.) as though it were the plague. The best we can say about this is that conversations are mercifully few and brief.
4. It Could Happen To Me Girl* – It Could Happen To Me Girl is convinced we are now carriers of some awful virus. If she gets too close she might catch Tragedy and then all sorts of terrible things will befall her and so it’s just better, you see, to keep as much distance between us as possible. She will call occasionally and we’re still on the Christmas Card List, but she won’t be dropping by. And just forget all about those holiday-party invitations and afternoons at museums and getting together for coffee. It might be catching and a girl’s got look out for herself.
The good news is that the people who are left are what my friend Kat would call 'Finest Kind.' And, if you're reading this, you're probably one of them; an easy place to land in a sea of rocky ground. It's pretty rare and I am grateful for every one of you.
[*This naming convention is not meant to imply that guys are any better at this stuff. I'm female and 'she' is my preferred pronoun default. There are plenty of Happy Guys and Ostrich Boys to go around.]