Men. I used to think they didn't understand women all that well. And I was certain they couldn't understand the grief of a mother who has lost a baby.
But in the last three days I've had two different encounters with men that make me think I may have been hasty in forming that conclusion.
Monday I had a pre-hearing conference with a Judge. As I entered his chambers, he looked me right in the eye and asked (without the sympathetic head tilt), "How are you?" Not, "How ya doin'?" that people throw out there by way of greeting without really expecting an honest answer. He didn't smile and he didn't look as though he pitied me. He looked as though he cared. So I didn't feel uncomfortable telling him, "I'm hanging in there," with the same direct look and delivery.
The thing is...he didn't offer any platitudes. He didn't try to make me feel better. He looked me in the eye and said, "Good." Then he looked down at the case file on his desk and said, "Now what are we going to do with this case?" He didn't tell me to hang in there. He didn't tell me it would get better. He didn't say anything stupid.
Then today, the farrier was out to give the girls a manicure. As he was leaving he said, "I'll see you in January. I hope you have nice holidays...Christmas...Thanksgiving...New Year."
I smiled and said, "You too." When it came out of my mouth, I saw the question in his eyes...but I couldn't answer it. He was gracious enough not to ask the question and not to offer anything further that would prove useless. He let it be...but still somehow let me know that he cared.
So often I focus on what is wrong...what people do wrong...it's only fair that I share the people like this and the instances like this...where things are just perfect.
This leads me to wonder something that I'm a bit uncomfortable wondering. Have I been unfair to people? Have I expected too much? Have I set unrealistically high standards for the way I think people should behave around me?
In these simple moments, where my guard wasn't up and I wasn't agonizing over every detail of how to react to the other person or how to deal with my grief publicly, there was peaceful comfort. It was...nice. Maybe I don't need to worry so much. Yes, I KNOW there are going to be idiots out there..."It wasn't meant to be," or "You can try again." And I know that the idiot comments are hurtful. But maybe (and I'm just admitting to maybe at this point), if I relax and accept situations as they come without imposing standards for perfection upon them, I just might find that peaceful comfort more often.