I’m a bit old-school in many ways. I believe in manners and thank you notes and hierarchies in families and I believe that dancing in the kitchen makes things taste better. In my world there are rules to how life runs and there are “right ways” and “wrong ways” to do things.
For instance, there are certain things you should do in person if at all possible. There are things that can be done over the phone when that is not possible and there are things that are appropriate for email. Case in point: You do not end a relationship over email. Likewise, you do not need to be in front of someone to ask if they like the idea of painting your walls lime green.
But sometimes, I break those rules.
When my mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, I shared the news with close family in email. There was much to come to terms with and much to compartmentalize and often times it seemed like that had to happen hourly. My mom had just been diagnosed with an insidious disease. My parents’ world had changed, my world had changed and my kids’ world had changed – and the little ones didn’t even know it. Life felt tenuous and heavy.
I remember having discussions with Dad where we never said the disease name out loud. We talked about it in great detail (because that is what we do), but the name was never said. It was like that for a long time for me. And so when it came time to tell people, I realized I couldn’t say the words. I realized while people needed to know things and endless questions needed to be answered I couldn’t and didn’t need to talk about it.
I learned some things about myself. I know that sometimes there are things that should be shared personally or on the phone – and I just don’t have the voice to do it. I just don’t have the strength to do it. Sometimes I just need to share facts and then just not talk. Sometimes the subject is hard and my need for privacy is great and in an attempt to keep balance in my head, heart and life I choose email.
Email is sometimes the voice I don’t have. It is the right choice and the wrong choice all at once. But I am thankful I have that choice to make – and I am thankful I have friends and family that understand why that choice gets made.