Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The rain cloud…

A friend recently told me that through the writings in my blog, she believes that I saw myself as a burden during those final months. She then reminded me that my true friends, the ones that had been there during those difficult and painful years did not feel burdened. They were glad to have been there for both of us. That when they were feeling so helpless, it helped them to be able to make a difference at a time when it felt like all hope was lost.

I had not ever stopped to truly think about that. But yes, I guess I did. Those days were so dark. And the days turned into months. We were all just trying to survive and I felt like this walking storm cloud that brought sorrow, pain and disconcertion with me.

I used to joke that I was the “Oh fuck girl” because whenever anyone heard my story or knew what my family was currently going through, they would look mortified and you know they were thinking…Oh fuck. Along with: Glad that’s not me, I couldn’t deal with that, or that just plain sucks. Or the ever popular…how do you do it?

I still think of myself as the “Oh fuck girl” sometimes. When people hear that I am a young widow, or that David died of brain cancer, or that I have a 4 year old son...I get that same look. They suck in a deep breath and stare at me wide eyed and you know what they are thinking. Oh fuck.

But, that meant a lot to me, especially from her. And it was probably something I needed to hear. I remember near the end and one of the last times David got out of the house, we went over to her place. I needed so desperately to get out. Get out of the house. Just get out. And I took Alec and David over there to unwind and play. It was a difficult day and by the end of that visit it was painfully obvious that David would not be physically able to do this much longer. I had a tough time getting him into her house and while we were there, he was distant and disconnected. It was hell.

Watching him. Knowing that somehow I was going to have to get him up and moving again and back out to the car. The impending dread and anxiety. And just wanting a quiet moment where I did not have to worry about anyone or anything. A moment to curl up into the fetal position and just be. But in those final months I did not get many of those, except when the boys were all down for the night.

But I remember that day. It is etched into my memory and it was interesting to hear how differently my friend remembered that very same day. How yes, it had been sad and heartbreaking. But how also she had just been glad to have been there. To give me a hand. Something to hold onto when I so desperately needed that. I was going under in those days. Barely surviving. Barely breathing. Barely living. Many moments I was mere seconds from exhaling one long, last breath and going under altogether. Everything stopping. No longer having to labor on.

But somehow I managed to keep my shit together. Keeping myself above water and ensuring that both Alec and David were safe and cared for. But it still brings tears to my eyes to know that through all those dark times, people were there for us. Because they loved us. Because they were our friends. Not out of some sense of duty as I so often felt like. No obligation. No burden. Just friendship. That, my friends, is one of the most precious things life has to offer. Love and friendship. If you have that, everything else is inconsequential….

The support surrounding us was amazing and I felt and still continue to feel some days like our whole situation was a burden. I was so damn independent. I hated asking for help. Knowing that without it I would possibly not be able to stay afloat frustrated the hell out of me. I felt like this enormous failure to have to lean on so many for support. I wanted to be able to stand proudly on my own. And yet, I did. I asked for help and accepted it. I knew that if I did not ask, I would go down. And if I went down, the whole family went down with me. I was their caregiver which meant I could never go down...not even for a moment. So, I swallowed my misplaced pride and reached out. And when I could not, friends invariably would swoop in periodically and miraculously take care of things that I was unaware or unable to ask for specifically. They just did it. They watched me like a hawk and made sure to take care of me when I was unable or too distracted to take care of myself. And through this all I made deeper connections with those friends. With myself.

I think I am finally realizing that they did all of this not out of some misplaced sense of obligation. Not a burden. Not a duty. They did it out of compassion, love and friendship. Even now I cry when I think about it. How selfless, caring and loving everyone was towards us. And how they continue to be now.

I still feel that sense of burden when I have dark times. When a moment takes me unawares and brings me to my knees. When I am sad. When I cry. I feel like a dark cloud again raining on everyone’s parade. And maybe someday I will learn to show the same compassion towards myself that everyone else has shown towards me?