Two people dear to me received bad news this week. The issue for one was professional; for the other, medical.
Bad news produces a predictable response for me. I feel angry and know that emotion will last a while. I feel self-pity and immediately try to will that response away as quickly as possible, because it simply produces more anger. (Self-pity makes me feel weak; the Marine father is responsible for that.)
I do my best to get a prayer out as quickly as I can, even if it’s one of complaint. It serves to remind me that most things are beyond my control and that they always will be.
Depending on the news, I probably shed some tears or at least feel the sting of salt from the ones that don’t fall. Then, I make a call or send a text to Merle, because being loved makes all things bad better.
Finally, I do some kung fu: a volley of triple straight punches into the elevator air, as if the bad news has taken physical form that I can strike. A couple of sidekicks against the wall of the handicapped bathroom stall – gently, so as not to damage a knee or be heard by others. The release is cathartic and just enough to get me to the next class, where I can thoroughly purge it all out and take the next right step to the next best thing.
Neither of my friends do kung fu, but they have their equivalents. We all do, I believe, even if not recognized as such. Whatever returns one to center, provides assurance that all will be right at some point, even if “right” looks different than initially imagined, that’s the best bet for getting to the other side of bad news.