Let's Start With A Public Service Announcement
Plus A Dog Tale Letter To Doug
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Let’s start with a Public Service Announcement.
Local supermarket biscuit aisle. Jam Fancies straight ahead, Tim Tams to my right, Scotch Fingers to my left.
WELL MEANING PERSON:
Sandra? Hello! How are you?
Spins around. Oh Hi! I’m good thanks. Plodding along. Too much of a nice day to be in the supermarket though. Grabbing a few things and I’m out of here.
WELL MEANING PERSON:
Yes, yes, nice day… but how are you reeeally ???
Really, I’m okay thank you for asking. Sorry, I can’t stop to chat, I’ve got frozens in the car from my first shopping attempt (points to Scotch Fingers) I forgot Mum’s biscuits.
Smiles and waves.
Thinks to myself, Oh… you want the truth.
Head tilts, eyes roll back in sockets, body gives a shudder, Jack Nicholson’s character Colonel Nathan R. Jessep in the movie A Few Good Men takes over my body. Yells, “The Truth! You can’t handle the truth!”
I get it. We’ve all done it in some form or another. In fact I asked a way too delicate question of a person the other day right next to the Cadbury Roses chocolate boxes on special in front of aisle 7.
I wanted to slap myself in the head.
You ask yourself:
Will I appear rude or uncaring if I don’t ask how this person is getting on given their circumstances? Maybe it will be too awkward? I’ll just avoid them instead.
Ah, no… don’t do that either.
After the loss of her husband Anthony in a tragic accident, Kelly Exeter suggested a better question to ask would be…
“How are you today?”
Ever since I heard that from Kelly (I think during a podcast episode of Straight and Curly with Carly Jacobs now titled Very Excellent Habits) I have been using it in my every day conversations. It’s non-invasive. It conveys gentle concern without pressure. It gives someone like me the room and choice to answer with something like…
Yesterday was a bit of a downer, but I’m good today, thank you for asking.
Then you can both go on talking about the weather with relief and go your separate ways.
My personal emotional space feels respected, you feel like you haven’t ignored the obvious state of affairs and no one turns into a human Melting Moment in the biscuit aisle (or a very gnarly version of Jack Nicholson).
This concludes the Public Service Announcement for today. As you were. Lots of love and go gently. Xx
Today’s open letter to Doug.
Hi there Doug!
I’ve been mad at you so haven’t felt like writing. So there! Take that for leaving me for pain free eternity instead.
You redeemed yourself by sending me an owl to listen to the other night when I couldn’t sleep. You’d always hear them before me. “Can you hear the Mopoke Sandra? Wait… listen… there he is!”
When I woke the next morning I felt the pull to visit your resting place. I organised myself to get out there mid-morning before the best of the day turned into cold and blustery unpleasantness.
The sun flickered through the tree tops as I drove the familiar road heading North toward the mountains and the feelings of home and belonging. A tree-lined portal to times past.
Gouged gravel gutters from recent rain flanked the track entrance to the cemetery gates and evidence of the deluge value lay beyond in green pastures and the most magnificent sea of purple, white and yellow wildflowers nodding in the breeze beneath the Redgum trees.
Bounding from a cluster of trees came a tail wagging cattle dog to greet me. He happily trotted along the side the car until I parked in the shade of the flowering gum at the tracks end.
“Hello happy!” I said as I gently opened the car door giving him time to back away. “Where have you come from?”. He greeted me like a long lost pal landing his front legs on mine stretching out for a pat and lifting his head toward me while his tail moved franticly with excitement.
“You’re a friendly fella!” And with an almost lick of my nose he got down and began weaving his way through the grave sites, nose to the ground, until he stopped at your site… and only your site.
He had a good sniff all around it and for a brief moment I thought he was going to cock his leg on what’s left of the clay mound (which I must admit would have been extremely comical).
Instead, he gave me one last look over his shoulder and with a wave of his tail took off down the track on another mission and disappeared through the bushland the same way he came.
I needed that. I really did.
All my love,
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