The Most Difficult Question to Answer

OF ALL THE QUESTIONS I’ve been asked in the 7 months since first hearing the words ‘chronic lymphocytic leukemia,’ the one that has turned out to be the most difficult to answer has been “How are you?


It’s tricky because:

A) there is no gauge by which to measure it, and

B) it can suddenly change, so the durability of any answer comes into question.

* * *

I’VE GOTTEN INTO THE HABIT of couching my response with the words “AT THIS MOMENT, I am . . .” so people understand that if they’d asked me 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later, it could be a different answer, both being true.

Grief is a very fluid situation. Anyone who has processed any kind of grief understands this. Thoughts, and the emotions that attach to them, flit in and out and around and back again. There’s no predicting their arrival nor their departure. You have to just ‘go with it.’

(As I write this morning, I am reminded of a time in my 20’s when I heard an older woman (the age I am now) saying this very thing, and others nodding in agreement. At the time, I had no base of reference. I believed what she said, but it wasn’t until many years later that I understood more fully the experience she described.)

* * *

IF I HAD TO QUANTIFY things, I’d say FINE’ describes how I am most of the time. Maybe 95% of the time. Maybe higher. But like I said, where’s the gauge?

For the most part, I feel up to doing whatever needs to be done. And when I don’t, I switch gears and do something I am feeling up to. I try to ‘go with it’ and I think that’s a pretty good approach.

As for the other 5%, that would probably make for some interesting writing. For now I just try to capture some in my journal. Maybe it’ll be grist for the future. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a series…..and I shall call it….hmmmm……..any suggestions?

* * *

I AM FORTUNATE to have a couple of people in my life who know me well and help me keep things real. They trust me to tell them the truth and I trust them to let me without them feeling they have to fix everything.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in CLL, processing grief. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Most Difficult Question to Answer

  1. Michelle says:

    Marilyn, I so agree with this. It is the way I felt as a mom of 3 young kids, and the daughter of a cancer patient. I was “fine enough” to get the jobs done, mostly because I had no other choice. Those times that I was losing it, were the moments in the midst of surviving because I had to.

    I am so glad that you have some in your life to allow you to be rea., moment by moment.


  2. Liz says:

    I think you could call the series How I’m Doing…since if leaves itself open to many options for a writer! I agree with the other person who commented that I am glad you have some people close to you that help you “keep it real” So much of what goes on in our lives it out of our control, all that we can do is do our best at dealing with it.


  3. Marilyn says:

    Someone suggested a title, like I asked! I love that! Thanks, Liz.

    Other ideas:
    The Further Adventures of…
    The Continuing Saga of…

    okay those are a little dramatic. I’m still brainstorming and welcome all suggestions.

    How about “The Other 2-5%”? No, huh?


  4. Suz says:

    I like “The Other 2-5%”


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