Rhae gets a visitor that sets her delicately rebuilding world into a tailspin. Don’t miss this first page from Chapter 5 of A Place to Stand.


     Two months, eight weeks, have passed since Ryan died. I haven’t returned to work, yet. I did call Dee, my boss, and she granted me some more time off after having the inevitable, “take all the time you need” discussion. Sympathy and I’m sorry talks drive me insane. Having exhausted all the time Dee granted me, and wanting to avoid any further discussions about everything, I have decided to return to work tomorrow.

     Sitting in my recliner, drinking coffee I take in all the empty spaces around me. Ripping down pictures and mementos had left an unmistakable mark of loneliness. I had no idea it would look and feel this empty. I hope the CDs don’t turn into puddles of plastic under the heat in the attic. I had planned to give them away or have a yard sale, but I just didn’t feel like it yet. Giving things away meant I would have to face more of Ryan’s family and friends. It’s still too soon. The YMCA was happy to get all the sports equipment I donated.

     Honestly, I had never paid attention to how much the man loved playing sports. Not that he was exceptional at any of them, but he did like getting together with friends and trying to play sports. One part of me thinks I should feel guilty for getting rid of all of Ryan’s things, but I don’t feel bad about all my donations since I’ll never use those things. It’s been years since I played on the church softball team. Turns out I am not cut out for church league anyway. I am far too competitive. It never ended well when the game didn’t go my way. I laugh just thinking about the last game we played together. Ryan had to pick me up and take me off the field.  I give poor loser a whole new meaning.

     Drinking my coffee as I study my little notepad. I’m a list maker. There I said it. I have lists for everything. It doesn’t make me a control freak. Ok, yeah, it does. Today’s list is all about what needs to happen so that I can successfully return to work tomorrow. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to normal. On the other hand, I’m going to have to face my coworkers and my least favorite of all, the Dragon Lady. I never look forward to seeing her.

     I need to call Jess to see if she has any updates from the life insurance company. Ryan had a hefty life insurance policy through his work. We never planned on dying, but since it was a benefit through his work, he had signed up. She said the HR lady from his job told her he had a 401k with them. Ryan listed me as the beneficiary on that too. Just add this to the list of things about Ryan that I never noticed.

     Adding to my list, I need to decide what I’m wearing to work tomorrow. I’m sure I’ve either lost or gained weight with all that’s been happening, and I’ll need to try on whatever I decide to wear. It occurs to me that I should be bright, but not perky. I should be grieving, but not depressed. I should be a little sad, but not enough to draw more sympathy. I definitely shouldn’t appear to be too over the whole situation so soon. What is the appropriate grieving period? In the old days they would grieve for like a year, I think. I can’t imagine that Ryan or anyone would really want me to grieve him for that long. Am I not supposed to be getting on with my life? I mean, I didn’t die. He did.

     Why do people think there is some magical mold that someone who is grieving, after a death, is supposed to fit into? I have never fit any mold. Why would this be different?