How to Beat a Glum Day

Sometimes the best way to move beyond our pain is to do something for someone else.

by anne goodwin • More.com Member { View Profile }

Sometimes glum is the order of the day. Today was one of those days. Glum. Glum. Glum. Strange word that oddly, phonetically, nails the emotion it portrays. And I am choosing to wallow in it. I know all the platitudes — What real reason do I have to be heavy of heart? Well, maybe a couple. The recent, unexpected and unfathomable loss of a very dear friend at a relatively young age is one. But compared to his wife (a treasured BFF), who is doing her best to sally forth and muddle through, my sadness is grief lite. I hurt for her hurt, and it hurts.

And then there's my recent visit with my mother, who at 87 exists in her prison of a body with atypical Parkinson’s. For some unknown reason she has decided to quit talking to us. I spent my first day of my visit trying to ascertain why — Did her throat hurt from a recent endoscopic procedure? Was she angry about something? Was she too sad to talk? Or had she lost her “mind to voice” connection? I did not press though and wanted to be accepting of her new choice.  Imagine my surprise, and yes, disappointment, when during the evening hours a caregiver walked by us, stopped and greeted my mom and asked her how she was doing and all of a sudden my mom responded with a booming, "I am doing very well, thank you." Hmmm, thanks Mom.

Back home and facing my newly established “empty nest” status, I was happy to learn my son, who is a senior in college, planned an unexpected visit home this weekend. He's a philosophy major though facing the daunting prospects of graduate-school admission and was full of pragmatic comments. He was astute enough to notice my demeanor, and questioned why I was emitting big sighs. "Oh, honey, sigh, it's nothing, sigh, except this big bad world out there might not be ready for one more philosopher, long sigh."

The Glum Anne just wanted to crawl into bed, covers pulled up, pillow over face, and stay put until the first signs of spring. But the phone rang, and it was my other son, my freshman in college who we will see tomorrow as he performs in the marching band at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

His immediate response to my quiet hello was, “What’s wrong?” "Nothing Sweetie, what's up?" I said.

"No, Mom, what's wrong,” he asked again. “I can tell, is it something bad?"

"Everything, is fine, why are you calling?" I said.

"I was wondering if you would make me some chocolate chip cookies?" he said.

After a quick perusal of my cupboard, I found myself hauling out the Kitchen Aid and the next thing I know the butter is creaming with the sugar, and I am starting to feel a tiny, little bit better. As the dough stiffened, and I greased the baking sheets I actually found myself smiling. And once the baked chocolate aroma filled the air, I realized the platitudes of good health and loved ones and being grateful for the here and now are realities to keep front and center. If anything, the loss of a friend or a parent teaches us that, if we can get past our pain, we might be able to do something for ourselves and for others. And it's good to pick ourselves up and do something, anything. Wallowing isn't all that it is cracked up to be.

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