It’s been four days since Pops died. The question I most get from people is “How are you doing”, usually with an emphasis on the “you.” I assume the “you” is emphasized when I read it by text, anyways. They could be emphasizing the “how” or the “doing” for all I know, but that would make for some odd lines of questioning “HOW are you doing?” or “how are you DOING?”
I was sitting on my couch half watching a terrible, even by my forgivable rom com loving standards, rom com asking myself in my head “how am I doing, really?” when another friend texted the same question at that exact moment. I don’t know how I’m doing actually.
This morning, I woke up finally getting the first good night sleep I had in four days but the sharp headache I’ve had since Pops passed was back. Later that morning, I was on the verge of tears right before my taekwondo class for no reason other than an unspecific encompassing grief. It took all I had to summon the will to not cry and get through class. My legs felt heavy, my arms felt weak, it felt like I was trying to run in knee high mud with a one hundred pound concrete slab strapped to my chest. I wanted to quit more times than I can recall. I wanted nothing more to throw in the towel, call it a day and head home for the security of my couch and blanket. I’ve done enough martial arts in my life to know that if the mind, soul and body are not in sync, its a herculean uphill battle but its one thing to know this and another to experience this.
Later that afternoon, Little Mitch had his taekwondo yellow belt test. We already postponed his test a month ago as he was struggling with his own feelings over his Papa’s cancer. Our instructor asked me if he was still wanting to do his test today, knowing that we lost Pops this week. “Yes,” I replied, “he says he still wants to do it. Says he’s ready.” He did fantastic. That tricky turn that has been plaguing him for months, no problem, fluid, graceful. That unsure left leg kick that never quite broke the wood board these past few weeks, with intention, clean snap in two.
Like most fathers I’m especially proud of my son’s athletic accomplishments but today I have never been prouder. If roles were reversed I would have to postpone my belt test as there would be no way I could do it with the painful raw hurt for my Dad I’m carrying in my heavy heart right now. My seven year old son showed me an example of tenacity and fortitude that I will use for those painful times that are ahead of us as we adjust to a life without Pops.
So how am I doing? My head won’t stop aching. I sleep but I don’t feel rested. I’m missing my Dad. I want to cry today, but I can’t, it’s just not there. I’m digging deep for that extra little bit I don’t have just to get through the day. I’ve got a dull pain in my chest that hurts every time I breathe. I’m numb. I’m disconnected. I’m grey. I’m tired. I’m unfocused. I’m hazy. I’m hurting. I’m holding on.
You know what I wish someone would ask me, instead of “how are you doing?” I wish someone would just once ask me “what do you want?” I would answer, I want just one more afternoon with my Pops. To finally get his chili recipe I kept forgetting to ask for. To hear him complain about his favourite hockey team. To tell him about that powder blue ’57 Chevy I saw drive by the other day. To watch my son hug his Papa one more time.
How am I doing? I’m running in mud.