On Wednesday evening, I attended the visitation of the father of a friend. He died suddenly last weekend of a pulmonary embolism while my friend and her husband were on vacation in Ireland. When I got to the front of the line, without saying anything to each other, my friend and I hugged and then cried and then hugged some more. She then pulled back until we were at arms length and, with both of her hands tightly clasping both of mine, she looked me in the eye and asked, "Does it get any better?"
This friend had attended my mother's visitation, and she wanted to know what I felt now, one year later. But my mind was blank, and when something finally popped into my head, I said it out loud.
"I don't know yet."
Then, we hugged and cried some more.
Two days later, I'm still wondering if I said the "right" thing. I'm not sure what she needed from me in that moment. Did she need honesty from me? Or did she need to hear me say, "Yes, it gets better," even if that was not what I felt.
I think that's what threw me. I don't know if it really gets "better". Maybe "duller" is more appropriate. And maybe ten, twenty years from now, I'll have another word to describe it.
I feel bad that I didn't use the opportunity to ease her mind. I might have answered differently if I could have mulled it over for a bit. But her question blindsided me, and I answered from my gut, not my head.
In retrospect, knowing this friend, I think she did want to know what I was feeling. But for that particular instance, I can't help but think that a bit of comfort would have been better.