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Would you rather … A root canal or family dinner?

I have been known to cry at the dentist’s office. I have so many crowns I should be royalty! So when a root canal seemed an easier undertaking than a family dinner, I knew times were tough.

Family meals are something we value. Which is a bit ironic since cooking is not at all my forte! Laughter, silliness, discussing our day, and a healthy amount of irritating one another are a part of most meals. The table is a sacred place in our home!

When Riely’s depression first surfaced, these treasured mealtimes took a beating. Her lack of response and deep sadness could not be masked, nor would I want it to be. The new dinner guest at our table could not be ignored. However, it didn’t need to be the focus either. Life for all of us was still occurring and there were stories to be told!

I began to dread dinnertime. My stomach was sick from the heartache I felt for Riely, for her sister…for our family. A root canal seemed more inviting than the intrusion of depression. Food simply had no taste. (And its not because I forgot to season it)

It would have been easier to move in front of the TV allowing us to go into our own worlds. I never wanted to watch Wheel of Fortune so badly in my life! Yet, we would surely lose touch that way.

Depression would not steal our sacred time (miserable as it might get). It felt as if one of the legs of our four-legged table was broken. We worked hard to hold the table up so it wouldn’t fall and come crashing down. Our world was shifting and the new terrain quite unfamiliar. The consistency of this family gathering time was important.

Depression can be isolating, leaving families fragmented. It is tiring and difficult. The absence of unbridled laughter at our meals created a canyon of emptiness. I finally realized I was experiencing grief.

I missed this wonderfully bright, funny, and caring girl! Lynn missed her pesky little sister. It was hard to continue our banter and equally hard to talk about good things happening in our individual lives. But it was necessary.

During this time I began to learn not to “mirror” Riely’s depressed state. She was extremely blue, not me. I hurt for her. Empathy is different than imitating or taking on her emotions as my own. I had to deal with my issues separately, in a different space.

Little did I know that her depression would become a catalyst for my own self-growth. This depression thing just keeps on giving! I really am a better me today!

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