How Are You Doing?

by Kathy Buchanan

A Candid Conversation With Connie, based on the Adventures in Odyssey episode “Life Expectancy.”

Hey, everyone. Thanks for being here. If you didn’t know, my mom passed away recently. It was sudden and sad, and still too difficult to wrap my brain around. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. The last few weeks have been a blur of wadded-up tissues and unexpected reunions. Now the funeral’s over, and I’m sitting in a too-empty house with a broken heart and a freezer full of casseroles.

Yes, casseroles. See, when people know they can’t fix your heart, they try to fill your stomach instead. Every few hours, somebody knocks on the door with lasagna or a tray of tuna noodle casserole.

I smile and say, “Thank you, this looks delicious,” all the while hoping they won’t ask the worst question in the universe: How are you doing?

Whit came over last night. We ate some chicken-broccoli-cheese goop, then looked at photo albums. My mom must have taken a bajillion pictures. She had 300 of me playing soccer—and I only played five games. I still remember her cheering for me, even when I accidentally scored a goal for the other team. Twice. She had pictures of my 15th birthday, when we dressed up in fancy hats and used fake accents at that café in Los Angeles. She even had pictures of my awful—I mean, artistic—haircut from January. I just wish there were more pictures of her.

I’m in cry-all-the-time mode right now. Whit understands. Sometimes he cries with me, other times he hugs me tight.

As I flopped on the couch with a jumbo box of tissues, I noticed one of my mom’s pillows. It’s funny, I’ve seen that pillow thousands of times—and spilled soda on it half a dozen times—but I’ve never read it. Mom had stitched a Bible verse on it: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV).

Ever-present.

My mom won’t be cheering in the stands when I graduate from college. She won’t help me find the perfect wedding dress, or be there with me in the hospital when I have kids of my own. But God’s not going anywhere. He shows His love for me through Whit’s hugs, precious old photos and a lifetime supply of casseroles. And I know God must be filling me with new hope every day, otherwise I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

How am I doing? Well, my nose hurts from crying so much, and my heart feels both numb and achy, which doesn’t make sense—how can you feel nothing and feel too much at the same time? I’m a long way from OK, but I’m not alone... and I never will be.

This story first appeared in the October 2013 issue of Clubhouse magazine; used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.