If the phone rings…
I may not answer.
My husband would have turned 65 this year, which means I’m now receiving phone calls from Every. Insurance. Company. In. The. Universe. Telemarketers are not known for their courtesy, (otherwise they wouldn’t call during dinner or wake you up out of a sound sleep), but the ones I’ve talked to lately have taken being rude to new depths. I know what you’re thinking: why answer the phone? Because the majority of these calls come from the area code in which we used to live, and because I don’t have the phone number of every single person I know there either in my head or in my phone, I answered because it *might* be someone I know that I actually want to talk to. Big mistake! as Julia Roberts so aptly observed in the movie Pretty Woman. Big. HUGE!
They call and ask for him by name (stab in the heart #1). I explain, politely, that he is “unavailable” (because it still hurts to say out loud that he died.) They must speak with him before his birthday, they say, (stab in the heart #2), because they have the Best. Medicare. Supplement. Plan. EVER!!!!! I remind them, politely, that he is unavailable (stab in the heart #3) and ask, politely, to be removed from their calling list. This is where things get ugly. “Add your number to the Do Not Call Registry!” they snap. I tell them, (perhaps not quite so politely), that my numbers – both of them – have been on the Do Not Call Registry for the past five years. “That’s not true!” they accuse. “If you were on the DNC Registry, we wouldn’t be calling. Just let me speak to William!” (stab in the heart #4). By now, I’m so done with polite. “He’s dead,” I say, point blank (stab in the heart #5). “He died in 2014,” I add, for good measure (stab in the heart #6). At which point they hang up on me, without so much as an “I’m sorry.”
I know everyone gets calls like this and they aren’t the end of the world. I have seen what was, for me, the end of the world and this is not it, but they are still extremely painful and not very good for my blood pressure. I am angry at them for calling, angry I can’t make them stop, angry at being reminded yet again in such a tactless manner that Bill is gone (as if I could forget), and livid at myself both for answering the phone in the first place and allowing the whole thing to bother me so much. I thought I was doing better than that. I certainly wanted to be doing better than that, but…
…that’s just how grief is for me. It colors the perceptions and mangles the emotions turning what is innocuous (albeit annoying) for others into an emotional land mine for me. No linear process this, it meanders here and there, doubling back on itself with frustrating irregularity in a seemingly endless string of “gotchas”. It comes fully furnished with unmarked detours, roadblocks, sinkholes, washed out bridges, and more twists and turns than a theme park roller coaster, and the closest thing it has to a pattern is the one-step-forward-three-steps-back way it unfolds. Or doesn’t.
I know in my head that life is too short to waste precious emotional energy on inconsequential things like telemarketers. Sometimes you just have to disengage and let things go, as the book I saw this week suggested. I haven’t read it but the title is now burned into my brain. “They Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys.”
I also know that there are many times when that is easier said than done.
I’m working on it. In the meantime, if the phone rings and I don’t recognize the name or the number, I won’t answer. (If you try to reach me and I don’t respond, my apologies. Leave me a voicemail with an identifier, and I’ll call you back, I promise!)
Who or what is driving you crazy right now?
Is there a way to either take back the keys or not hand them over in the first place? Can you just let it go?
If not, what might there be for you to learn either about yourself or the situation?
May you navigate this day with a good grip on your keys, and peace in your heart.