Do people really even listen? I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, and the store manager walked by our bagger. As he walked, he asked the bagger, "How are you?" The bagger replied, "Not that good." The manager brightly said, "That's great!" and kept on walking. Did the manager even hear what the bagger said? Was this some kind of joke I missed? It made me start wondering about listening to people and really hearing what they say. I am often asked, "How is Clare?" We went to a barbecue in honor of our former pastor a couple weeks ago. Since we no longer attend this church, it had been months since we had seen many of these people. The "Clare question" came up frequently. A couple weekends ago, we were at a birthday party and, again, I heard many people ask, "How is Clare?" Sometimes I am at a loss for what to say. What do people really want to know?
I have my short answer of, "Clare's doing great. She started walking and is so thrilled to be mobile." That is usually enough to satisfy most people's question on the status of Clare. But there are many times, when I am attempted to say, "Clare's not really doing that well. She has started walking, which is so exciting, but her heart is giving her trouble. We notice she is very tired most of the day. Her fatigue causes her to be more sensitive and easily frustrated, so we deal with many temper tantrums. Especially over eating. Mealtimes are a battle with Clare. Her heart is working so hard that even going outside on a hot day is a disaster. Which is hard on the rest of the family because it makes summer outings that much more difficult. And that's been tough with Jamie, who loves to be outside and wants to go to the playground and swim in his pool around the clock. So every day is a battle of conscience for me. Make Clare miserable for 30 minutes so Jamie can have his bit of sunshine, but then keep Jamie cooped up in the house for the rest of the day, so Clare does not go into cardiac arrest. The cardiologist made us so scared about keeping Clare out on a hot summer day, that we have forgone the rest of our summer activities - no beach, zoo, parks. Thankfully fall and the cooler weather is in the near future as well as Clare's catheterization in two weeks. We will be glad to have all that behind us. But, I guess, Clare is doing okay."
I just feel incredibly selfish and rude if I burden other people with our worries about Clare. There are many people who do share our worry and pain (mainly our family), and I already hate casting that shadow over their lives. I know people truly do care about Clare and our family, and that is why they ask the question. Yet how much do they really want to know? I think I need to revise my short answer to something like this, "Clare is hanging in there and making progress, but she could still really use your prayers."