Is Hello A Dirty Word?

“‘Say Hello’ was inspired by optimism.” Nancy Wilson

You would think that saying hello would be easy, but during the last year, I have found it interesting and not what I expected to experience.

Depending on the weather, I get out in nature a few times per week. As I walk around the local parks, I find myself saying hello to strangers, and to my surprise, I am often taken aback by their responses.

I have found that people fall into the following categories: 

  • #FriendlyHuman,
  • #Don’tLookorTalkToMe,
  • #DogLover, 
  • #ReciprocatedHelloOnSteroids,
  • #Letmebe,
  • #LeaveMeThef***Alone.

Friendly or NOT

I am friendly and polite, but I wonder if this was always the case. Then I realized that it certainly was not. I was friendly to those that I knew, but that was not the case with strangers.  

Throughout my life, I have learned and adjusted my behaviors to my surroundings.  Growing up in Los Angeles, I would have never waved or said hello to a passerby. I don’t know if that was because of the underlying fear of strangers or simply growing up distrusting all others.  

So when did I become friendly?


Through the years, I moved to multiple cities. The journey began in Los Angeles, followed by Denver, Miami – Fort Lauderdale, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Port St. Lucie, Hartford, Daytona Beach, and my present home outside Farmington, CT.  


When I moved to smaller cities, my behavior toward strangers changed.  I specifically remember living in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, when a passerby waved to my husband and me for no other reason than to be friendly. 

This experience began a different expectation of the communities where I chose to live.  As time passed, I continued to walk around my neighborhood. I grew accustomed to waving and saying hello to strangers on the street. 

The thing about this behavior is that it has become an essential part of my personality. I enjoy being friendly, saying hello, and reaching out to friends and family, the butcher at the store, or my mail lady. 

After moving to my newest home in Connecticut, the walks began, and I found myself daring people to interact. I would do a combination of a wave, nod, smile, or simply say hello. What I was greeted with amazed me, and I have broken down my encounters into six categories. 


I’ve learned that the optimal encounter is obviously with the Friendly Person. This person is perceived to be kind and caring even though this is based on no tangible evidence except the smile.

So when I walk through my local park as the recipient of that smile, I feel comfortable and look forward to those encounters. 



There are two versions of this person. One gives off the vibe and would prefer to be ignored and left alone. As a social person, I must be reminded that this individual may be on another path. 

They may visit the park for peace, to enjoy the scenery, or clear their head. They might also be shy or lack the confidence to engage with strangers.   

While the other individual goes out of their way to avoid a friendly gesture and will move to the other side of the street as they see you approaching. This person will also prevent any eye contact. 

Many of these encounters spawned a deeper conversation with my son, one I hadn’t considered. People tend to react differently depending on who says hello. 

People are more receptive if it is a young child or a woman. However, the reactions can be completely different if the one saying hello is a male or a male of color. This fact is one that I want to be very aware of, as I don’t want to make anyone feel more uncomfortable than they already appear to be. 



The #DogLover encounter is usually one of the safest because it isn’t about them. It’s about their dog.

They understand that the dog get’s all the attention, so it is ok to say hello, smile and even ask where they got the dog or if you can pet them.  

This interaction results in everyone feeling comfortable. I have found myself smiling at a pet owner, and when they reacted nervous/unfriendly, all I had to say was, “What a beautiful dog,” and their reactions turned around. Again because it isn’t about them, they tend to be more receptive. 


Through my many walks, I have encountered a version of this person. They will often engage in more conversation than I ever intended.

So for me, “Hello, just trying to be friendly here” is the vibe I’m going for and what makes me comfortable.  


The #Letmebe category has two different personality types.  One is the please leave me alone as I’m outside for my health. The person at the park engages in the available exercise equipment and loop options. So I respect their wish and will altogether leave them alone.  

The other is the individual who is out for their 20-mile ride and can’t stop to talk; however, the friendly biker occasionally smiles, gives a small wave or nod, and, on a rare occasion, will say hello as they race by.  


This person gives off the vibe of You disgust me.  They are miserable in the park, at home, or at work. I’ve learned to give them a wide berth and let them contaminate the air around them, not me.  


So what’s the protocol for Greetings? 

My greetings range from a nod, smile, wave, or saying a simple hello. And if I am so moved, it could be a combination wave and hello. Through the years, I learned to read the oncoming person well. And depending on those first 5 seconds, I decide to nod, wave, say hello, or completely ignore them. Those 5 seconds set the stage for my feeling friendly or rejected.

I almost always say hello first and am surprised when someone else does. Acknowledging people is not only a friendly gesture but one that makes people feel comfortable and safe.

When I say hello to a fellow walker, and they make eye contact and keep walking without acknowledging me, I think how rude and unfriendly. But my Intent is never to cause someone to be uncomfortable. Well, ALMOST never.

There have been a few times that I got annoyed because of their rudeness. And on those occasions, I found myself thinking an explicative or sharing with my son that I would write a blog post titled “Look Up F***ER which always makes us laugh.  

However, most of the days that I walk, I am always happy that I did. On a good day, I can walk by someone in the park and say hello, wave, or smile; it doesn’t matter if they respond. But when they reply, it restores my faith in humanity, and I know in my heart that saying HELLO is NOT a dirty word.

Grief and the Anniversary Party

“Whatever life we have experienced, if we can tell our story to someone who listens, we find it easier to deal with our circumstances.” Margaret J. Wheatley


Shortly after my loved one passed, one of my closest friends was to celebrate her thirtieth recovery anniversary. Before my husband’s death, I had been looking forward to seeing her celebrate this milestone surrounded by her family and friends, but now I was struggling.  


As the day approached, part of me looked forward to catching up with friends. However, as the thoughts entered my head as to why I would be there without my loved one, my grief seemed to intensify, and I went from feeling heartbreak to inconsolable sadness. 

I went from feeling heartbreak to inconsolable sadness. Click To Tweet


 Making the Journey

Since his death, I retreated to my home and isolated myself from others. I knew I needed to get out of myself, so I considered making the journey. For the last several years, I had been so wrapped up in myself that I genuinely wanted to be there for her. She had spent countless hours talking to and supporting me through my loved one’s long illness, hospital stays, and eventual death.  

 So, I made plans to stay with some friends, bought an airline ticket, rented a car, and was ready to be a part of this beautiful anniversary. I was anxious on the day of my flight and couldn’t wait to get there as I knew a special hug was awaiting me. 


This party was the first get-together since my loved one passed, and I felt that attending the event would help me feel connected again.


I can’t say that I had been looking forward to the party, but as my special friend could not be at his funeral, I yearned to feel the love and acceptance that only a close friend can provide. 

 I arrived in Orlando at 5:00 p.m., picked up my luggage, and rushed to get the rental car. The goal was to beat the rush hour traffic, so I could promptly get to the pre-anniversary event. It had been arranged that several people that knew her well would share, and I wanted to hear what they had to say. 

 A Shoulder to Cry On

When I arrived, I searched for her, and as I entered the room, I saw her looking at me. She had saved a seat next to her, and I instantly started to cry.

We hugged, and she said a few words of comfort. I laid my head on her shoulder as the tears swept over me. The intimacy of this moment and our relationship was apparent to anyone watching.

 I had been friends with this woman for twenty-five years. The long-term relationship fostered trust, honesty, and plenty of love. Through the years, I had shared my pain, joy, loneliness, and deepest secrets with her, so it only made sense that being around her, I felt an intense bond that I hadn’t felt since before my loved one’s death.  

 It had been forty-five days since my loved one passed, and I started to feel better because I was surrounded by many long-time friends whom I consider family. During the evening, I was able to spend a little time with my close friend, but our quality time would come during the following few days.  

 The Waves Were Calling Me to Sleep

As the evening ended, I found myself experiencing some reprieve from my grief. We made our way to the hotel, and I finished my day listening to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, finding a little peace as I dozed off to sleep.

The following morning we got up early, took a walk, and had a lovely breakfast, killing time waiting for the celebration to begin. I tried to focus on why I had come all this way but couldn’t sustain the thoughts of celebration for very long. My grief drowned the symphony that the ocean waves provided, and thank goodness that before I knew it, it was time to go to the event. 

My grief drowned the symphony that the ocean waves provided Click To Tweet

And Now Time for the Party

As I walked into the venue, I saw many old friends. These friends were attentive and allowed me to share a little of my grief. A few of them joined me in shedding some tears. 

With others, I could see them grapple with what to say to a new widow and truly appreciated their attempts knowing that nothing would change how I felt.


The festivities began with serving food, allowing people to eat, mingle and share stories. That was preceded by a video of photographs depicting moments in her life with many people who had gathered in the banquet room. Afterward, people began giving toasts and sharing how much it meant to them to be there for her thirtieth recovery anniversary.  

I sat with friends and listened to the testimonials knowing how blessed I was to have someone so caring and loving in my life. I felt terrible for not sharing a lovely story. But I was overwhelmed with my grief and afraid I would ruin this occasion, so I didn’t say a word.


Knowing I was overwhelmed with my loss, the celebrant hugged me and whispered a few words.


I don’t remember the specifics, but she managed to make time during her party, which allowed me to feel a deeper connection to her on her special day.  

 As my trip ended, I was immensely grateful to have made this journey which allowed me to be a part of the celebration and to share my tears, hugs, grief, and love for my special friend.


Run Rosina Run

“Although you may get exhausted sometimes, you can still get over it if you have people around you who give you warm words.” Nayeon

One of my favorite movies from the 90s was Run Lola Run. It is about a woman who had to obtain 100,000 Deutschmarks in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend’s life. I remember the movie’s endless images of Lola’s flame-red hair blowing in the wind as she ran from one scene to the other. 

So today, as I sit and write about the last three weeks of my loved one’s life, the images of Lola running become clearer. During these three weeks, I lost twenty-two pounds, not because of a special diet. It was a direct result of all the running that I was doing. Not quite like Lola, but running just the same. 

Run, Run, Run

From the moment I opened my eyes, I would be running. I could hear it in my head Run Rosina Run. I would run to feed our cat, change the litter, get dressed, jump in the car, and speed to the hospital, making all attempts to miss the early morning traffic. Upon entering the hospital, I would stop in the lobby, purchase a bagel and drink, and immediately take a bite while getting into the elevator. I knew that if I didn’t do it then I wouldn’t know when I would have an opportunity for another bite. 

After his surgery, every organ began to fail. Click To Tweet

After his surgery, every organ began to fail. But the problem was that his kidneys were the first ones to go. Due to this, he was only allowed ice chips which I saw as cruel and unusual punishment. So before entering his intensive care room, I would put away all signs of food and drink.

Run Rosina Run. I would run in and out of his hospital room when the doctors or nurses performed procedures. I remember feeling guilty about this because somehow, I thought I should stay and support him while they did some uncomfortable and inhuman thing to him. But these procedures would give me a few minutes of reprieve from the horror of each day. I would take the elevator to the lobby, have a bite of my bagel, walk outside the hospital to smoke a cigarette, call a friend, and sob over the inevitable not-so-happy ending to our love story. 

One More Thing, One More Thing, And…

These escapes would last around 15 minutes, and then Run Rosina Run would enter my thoughts. Trying to be compassionate and not wanting to add to his discomfort, I made a point not to speak of food, the smell of food, and only drink when I was out of the room.

Even with all the running most days, I would return home after 10 p.m. to discover that I still had a partially eaten bagel and unfinished bottled diet coke at the bottom of my purse. Now I had to deal with the rest of my obligations – take a shower, wash clothes, pay a bill, return phone calls, check emails, play with his cat, unwind with music or TV and finally put myself to bed to do it all again and again.

So why was I running? Why had Run Lola Run infected my life? Click To Tweet

So why was I running? Why had Run Lola Run infected my life? What was the purpose of my running? In the movie, Lola was running to obtain money to save the love of her life. However, it didn’t matter how much money I had in my life, as none of it would save my loved one’s life. My Ron would not make it no matter how fast I ran. Run Rosina Run. There was no saving him. Run Rosina Run.

The Answer is Obvious

As I think back, I question why I was running, but the answer is obvious. I was running because the clock was ticking away. There wasn’t much time left for us to be together. Not much time to share the things that were important to us. Little time to hold each other’s hands.

Did he know how much I loved him? Did he know how important he was to my life? To our children’s lives? Did he hear what I was telling him? When he decided to stop all treatment, did he hear my words, letting him know that I would support him and that we would be alright? 

The day my Ron died; the running stopped. Click To Tweet

The day my Ron died; the running stopped. The weeks, months, and years of illness left emotional devastation that would take me some time to recover. Run Rosina Run hit a brick wall, and there would be no running for quite a while.

In the movie, Lola saved her loved one, but in my circumstances, only one person remained to be saved. So, at his death, I allowed others to step in, be of service and save me. I had been running for so long that just stopping felt unnatural, but the exhaustion eventually won out, and I lay down and slept. As time passed, with some support, love, and therapy, I finally started to feel better. Run Rosina Run didn’t have to run anymore.