After Barry passed away, I quickly learned that other people feel uncomfortable around me; they don’t know what to say or how to act. In less than eight weeks, I’ve learned to put up a façade.
However, the façade is dangerous, because I don’t have control of it – not completely – and I don’t know when it will crumble. Today, only half an hour ago, I was working as usual – quietly and staying away from my co-workers. I’ve learned to lie about how I’m feeling, because when people ask “how are you” they don’t really want to know. They are normally just being polite. Besides, most of the people who ask this question are clients and they don’t know what has happened.
Anyway, half an hour ago, a woman came through the door. Someone I’ve known, through work, for some years. We normally have a chat when we see each other and catch up on “gossip”. This woman stood in front of me, and instantly knew that all was not well and she said, “You don’t look happy.”
Four simple words, but they were enough to pull the façade down. I broke down and cried. This meant I had to give an explanation. All I could say was, “I lost my son two months ago.”
The minutes that followed were awkward. She hugged me and said how sorry she was to hear such news. She didn’t want to leave the job she had for me, she said it didn’t feel important anymore, but I took it and said that I’d be all right and the job would be done as normal. I couldn’t talk and she was hesitant to leave me. I assured her again that I was all right and she left.
My façade has crumbled and I am left feeling vulnerable. I think it will be an hour or so before I can rebuild the mask. Swollen, red eyes just don’t fit the picture, but as I said to the woman, “I will be all right.”