Confessions of a Children's Author

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lack of Sympathy

I've been debating over exactly how deeply I should delve into details, but since I haven't told any of the people I'd be discussing within this blog that I have a blog, let alone the address, I figured I need to do what I need to do...and what I need to do right now is sort some of this crap out that's been going on lately in my life.

First of all, I've been thinking a lot about my book and its characters lately, which I'm hoping will lead back to my revisions sooner than later. I'm feeling more ready to do it, anyway.

That being said, it feels almost indulgent to delve into my characters' lives and figure out what they need to do when I'm still trying to deal with things around me. I'm still amazed by the number of people I haven't heard from about my mother. Not old college friends that I haven't spoken to in a while--I'm talking first cousins. First cousins who supposedly really loved and cared about my mom. Three cousins I haven't heard from at all (though I heard from another family member that one of them was "taking it really hard"--huh, then I would figure she'd understand how much it would mean to me to just get a card in the mail from her to know she was thinking about how hard it is for me). I think the best one, though (heavy sarcasm here), is the one who called me and said he just wanted to call to see how I was doing, with no mention of why (as if it had just been a while since we'd talked), and then proceded to tell me that "I don't know if you heard the good news yet, but ." (Can't say what, but it was career-related.) My husband and I listened to the message together, open-mouthed, in disbelief that he somehow made the phone call about himself. Am I happy for him about his good news? Yes. Did I need to hear it in a phone call that didn't even mention my mother and made it sound like that was the real reason he was calling? No.

We experienced a similar incident with one of my husband's relatives. A few days after my mother died, this person called and said how sorry she was to hear about my mother, and then said something to the effect of "I know you're probably not thinking about this kind of thing right now, but there's a family thing in a few weeks and we need an RSVP by a certain date." You know what? If, in the message, someone realizes that something may be inappropriate, then it probably is. And don't say it. The last thing I would be thinking about within days of my mother's death is family gatherings. And as happy as I am for someone else's career news, save it for another call. I know that other people around me have not had their lives turned upside down like I have. Am I expecting them to stop everything to feel bad for me? No. Am I expecting them to send me lovely tearful letters and huge floral wreaths? No. But am I asking for them to simply acknowledge that my life has been forever changed? Yes. If they don't feel like calling, an email is fine. If they don't feel like emailing, then a simple card in the mail is fine (as someone said the other day, sympathy cards basically say the hard stuff already--all you really have to do sometimes is sign it).

I'll be dealing with some difficult stuff this weekend (more on that later), not the least of which is my father. I started this post intending to write about that, but it went in a different direction, so oh well. I guess my paternal dealings lately will have to wait until the next post...


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