Your greeting stops me in my tracks - “How are you - all right?”
What I say: “Yeah, fine – you?”
What I want to say:
"You’ve answered your own question, haven’t you? It’s not your fault. You want to hear that I’m all right and now I don’t want to disappoint you. Are you afraid I’ll ask for help? That I’ll start to cry and you won’t know how to comfort me? Or are you just in a hurry? It’s a sunny weekend morning and you have plans. Actually, no, I’m not all right. There’s a dead weight in the pit of my stomach and I had difficulty motivating myself to get out of bed this morning to face the day. My eyes ache and I’m feeling queasy. Last night we talked about his probable life expectancy and our financial situation, and did a bit of forward planning. He’s been in contact with ‘Dignity in Dying’ – he believes that there should be a choice when it comes to assisted dying. I agree. This morning he dropped his favourite espresso cup and it broke. “The beginning of the end,” he said. I bent to mop up the coffee, “Don’t be silly. Everyone drops things.”" It’s not like me to give automatic false assurances.
All right, I can tell you I’m fine and you can go on your way. I can paint a smile on my face to go with the lie.
You’re a good person, and I like you, but next time you ask the question “How are you?” Just stop there and be prepared to listen to the answer. Maybe I’ll be feeling okay but if I’m not, I won’t expect you to do anything about it except listen.
I’d do the same for you.