The Pilates teacher greeted me with a hug. How am I doing? “Struggling,” I replied. “And I’m happy to be here.” We had a good workout, with decent effort and laughter all around.

People sometimes grimace when they see me. That’s awkward. Other times people just pretend that nothing is different. I guess that’s their gift to me, to treat me like a normal person. But it becomes too taxing to talk about everything but the thing I think about all the time, this thing that is a part of me. People want me to be okay, but I’m not okay, and I’m tired of pretending that I am. Literally, it gets tiring to keep up this pretense.

The most comfortable thing is when people face it. We acknowledge the pain, the shittiness. Not just his death, but whatever crap I’m mired in that they know they can’t understand. When people acknowledge the inexplicable awfulness, they let me pass the weight for a moment, and we hold it together. Then we move on.  And then we can laugh, share stories, share small talk.

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