... people say.
Last week, a teacher I like and respect was chatting to me in the staff room before school. She said "I've been widowing all weekend because my husband was away. Amanda, I don't know how you do it".
..and I know, I KNOW that these kinds of comments often make the collective blood of widows begin to simmer.
But I didn't bite her head off or correct her because I know what she was trying to say.
She was trying to say that she admires me because I parent by myself all the time.
She was telling me with her clumsy words that she thinks I have strength and calmness that she knows is hard to keep up.
She was telling me that being a single (sole) parent who is working full time is a hard job.
...and it is.
People say dumb things all the time. But they think they are being compassionate and kind. ..and they often are.
At the moment, I am a useless bystander, watching, waiting and hoping that a little girl I know survives long enough to get a new heart.
Last week she went to the doctor with a cold. By that same afternoon, she was in hospital on life support with cardiomyopathy as her diagnosis.
Lara is 6 years old, on life support and needing a new heart.
This has stunned my collective friends to the core.
We are gobsmacked as to how this cheeky little girl has gone from having a persistent cough to having a ventilator in a couple of days.
...and like many of us have done in our time of grief (myself included), Lara's mother Ali has turned to facebook as a way of keeping everyone updated on her condition and venting when she needs to.
On the facebook page, she has posted pictures of Lara doing craft whilst hooked up to pipes and tubes and she has posted her fear over the upcoming transfer to Melbourne where heart transplant surgery will occur if a heart is "found".
I hang off every word, hoping that a heart is found (yet knowing another family has to suffer a tragedy for this to happen).
There's even a fundraising page which raised over $10000 in less than a week: people care.
....But this is also where all the dumb things are being said ... in the comments.
All the classics are there:
What a Little Angel / God is calling his little angel
What a fighter
She needs you to stay calm
Let me know if I can do anything to help...
When what they mean is that the love Lara and her family.
That they are worried.
That they hope Lara doesn't die.
That they don't want to show how scared they are for fear of upsetting Ali even more.
That they are uncomfortable and don't know what to do when Ali airs her feelings.
That they know they should do something but don't know what exactly to do (so they put the onus back onto the one person who is stressed out of her gourd:, Ali).
What they are really doing is trying to let Ali know she is not alone.
That they care about Lara.
That they wish things were different.
They just tend to eat a fair bit of shoe while they are doing it.
People mean well and their love and concern is real.
This is something I know I need to remember next time someone drops an almighty clanger on me.
* All the dumb things is a line from a Paul Kelly song that I love and it seemed to fit this post....