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Thursday, November 23, 2023

How Are You Doing

I get asked 'How are you doing?' multiple times a day.

These queries into my wellbeing come from all kinds of different people. Some are family. Some I know personally. Some I've never met. Some ask by text. Some ask on private (and public) messages on social media. Some phone.

And I never know quite how to answer.

I get asked often enough that sometimes I find myself wanting to just dash off some static response. How much should I really be sharing of what it's like at this point in my life?

It's not that I mind - far from it. Each and every time someone reaches out to me, it's a gift of caring, of concern, of sympathy for the loss of my wife. And I appreciate it. But I just don't know what, or how much to convey about where I am right now.

So I do my best to come up with an answer. Usually I'm fairly honest. I say, "I am doing okay, I think." 

And that's generally true. I function. I get out of bed. Every morning I spend an hour or two or three on estate donkeywork. (The paper trail triggered by one's by death is astounding.) I keep the house in some kind of reasonable state. I make meals. I play music with friends here in the Greacey Palms. I work on estate details. I make plans for the future.

But there's no way to convey the depth of despair, pain, and loneliness that occur at certain moments in the day, out of the blue. Triggered by this thing, or another. And the anguish, heartbreak and tears surface.

I try not to let that go on too long, or to include that in my answer.

How are you doing?

Are they asking 'are you crashing and burning'? Is it okay to be doing somewhat okay?

It's a strange position I'm in and like everything in the last year and a half I just do my best to figure it out day by day.

It's been three weeks since the Quad Queen left. One thing I learned in the last few months is that this blog has had a much larger and varied impact than I ever thought possible. I feel a sense of responsibility to those that are emotionally invested in Royal Flusher and the Quad Queen's story to keep going and tell whatever story is yet to come.

People want to know how I'm doing. And I think it's only fair to let you know as best I can.

As part of Jimmy Poon's Flusher Grief Management Program (he sent task grids, chore wheels in magnificent colors, to-do lists, and stretch goals), I'm working through the house here in Florida from one end to the other, putting things straight. Getting things organized and de-cluttered. All of that went by the wayside over the last year, and dealing with Karen's medical situation in the last weeks of her life launched a tsunami of entropy across the house. All of that has to be dealt with.

And, in time, her things of course. And as I write that, it's one of those moments.

How are you doing?

For the first week after Karen passed, I had nightmares. Now I have dreams where she is as she was, and that's a good sign I think.

Thanksgiving is today, and I hope all of you have a wonderful day with good food, family, togetherness. It's not emotionally loaded for me, as we Canadians have ours in October, so as not to clash with Grey Cup.

Christmas though - that one is going to be difficult. I can't feature going back to the cold north to have Christmas with family, and without Karen there. It would just be too painful. I really desire to just skip the whole foofarah and just barrel through without thinking about it too much.

Before we bought this house in the Greasy Palms, the previous owners painted every single room with the same color of paint (PPG's "Camel" - or "Camel Dung" as I now call it). It's befitting of a 1970s Grandma living room, with heavy dark woods, overstuffed couches, and plastic slip covers.

"Camel. More like Camel Dung."

So I've taken on the task of painting the entire house. I think it will be good therapy. It's physical. It's positive. It will improve my environment. It will keep me busy, and moving forward. And it's been so much fun picking colors out and getting little test pots of paint to see how they will work in the house.

I'm going for a Florida coastal beachy vibe, with airy colors of peachy sunsets over calming turquoise waters, bleached sand lit by the yellow sun, bright splashes of reds and oranges of tropical birds, or bright fabrics you might see at a straw market.

Gilded Linen neutral (right) and three test tones of turquoise. Terrific!

Earl will figure prominently in the new color scheme choices. He has creative control.

I'm avoiding actual cheesy paintings of actual beaches. I'm avoiding anything on black velvet. I'm avoiding unicorns and depictions of Hawaiian Elvis, much to Kenny Blankenship's chagrin.

I've picked out the basic neutral tone I'm going to use for most of the living room, and places where you don't want too much color. The color is called Gilded Linen and it turns out it was last year's 'color of the year'. Already I'm behind the curve! And I've got a beautiful greeny-turquoise in play for some doors, and a super toned down complementary of that color for a feature wall.

Karen would absolutely have loved this. I hope she somehow sees me and approves.

I hope she asks in whatever way she can 'How are you doing, my love?'

I'm hurting. But I think I'm doing okay.


    1. Thank you so much for the update and sharing with us. Glad that you are trying to put energy into something positive, as staying busy can be at least a little distraction from grief. I've learned from experience that the real question is "How are you doing TODAY?" Because some will be better and some worse; it isn't a linear path. So, if you have a day of being OK, do not feel guilty about it!

    2. Prayers for you as you face these struggles. If possible please take comfort in knowing that so many folks that only know you through all of your wonderful posts are praying and pulling for you.

    3. May God bless you my friend

    4. You’re a good man RF.

    5. How can it be three weeks and yesterday at the same time? I think of you often throughout my day, friend. xx

    6. We all wish the grieving process were an easy one, but sorry to say it isn' different for each of us but know this, time might not heal all wounds, but it does make them less painful, and the wonderful memories of time with your beloved wife will help even more...but try and be patient with yourself Eric :) peace my friend and one day would love
      to buy you a drink or share a meal in Vegas!! mike

    7. So glad to hear from you, and that you're holding your own. Very good to see glints of the old Flusher shining through the clouds of pain and loss. It will get better when it gets better. In the meantime I think you're doing exactly the right thing. Push on, brother.

    8. For those not immediately affected by profound grief life has a normality that's often taken for granted. Brew coffee, read the paper, go to work with no burdensome distress. With the death of a loved one, "the" loved one, the entire world focuses to a narrow beam of emotional coping. The birds are still singing, the sun may be shining, and ebullience recognized but not for melancholy rehabilitant. For those in desperate vacancy the migraine of despair rules every day. Time will help you tolerate your new normal. Slowly the quads will again emerge and memories will gladden rather than sadden. This is the nature of the human experience.

    9. Thank you for the update, RF. Keep sharing them when you can - as I mentioned before, it's helping others in a myriad of ways. Good luck on the painting! There's no task that more therapeutic - and at times frustrating - than painting! Love the new color scheme - can't wait to see a photo of it completed!


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