“You’re like our little pet,” my daughter said, smiling.
As if this were a good, sweet way to be and I should, perhaps, feel happy and loved.
Happy and loved to be fed and bathed and groomed and cared for so gently and meticulously.
And sometimes I do. Sort of. For a minute or two.
Almost 2 weeks after a very scary accident which left me with a broken right collarbone and a broken left wrist, and one week since surgery, I mostly always feel loved. And here and there, I sometimes feel happy. Except for when I don’t. It has been the ongoing paradox of life. The way the worst of times pave and weave together a broken and unsteady well-worn path with the best of times.
It feels very similar to grief– the way one minute feels as though nothing will ever be okay again, and the next minute feels as though everything’s going to be okay after all.
I cry everyday out of both pain and frustration. It’s been the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever faced. To be so helpless. To feel weak and fragile and hurt. And at the constant mercy of others.
And yet that mercy has been holy. And constant. And beautiful. The love and support and strength and generosity from my family and friends. Mom: No words. Thanks to you, we’ve laughed as much or more than we’ve cried. (Okay that’s a lie. But damn if you’re not trying to make it so) It has felt like a feather bed. Like a soft place to land. Most days. A reassuring and steady rhythm whispering, “you are not alone…you will not bear this by yourself…” And sometimes, I believe it.
Except for when I don’t.
Because there are moments. Days. Nights. Where it is suddenly much more clear. I am alone in this. No one truly bears it but me. When I am cold and unable to pull up the blankets or pull on a pair of socks. When I’m hungry but will have to wait until someone can feed me. When I can’t reach something I need and I can’t adjust my position to get it, either. Just to name a few. Hundred. After days of crying hot tears of humility and embarrassment in the bathroom, I stubbornly figured that out. Because really. A person has their limits.
And I totally get it. People have jobs and events and commitments. Busy lives. They have the luxury of stepping outside of this and stepping back in at their convenience.
But I don’t. And it’s hard.
Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not cancer. It is not terminal. I get it. But it is still a huge, painful, lonely, suck.
Occasionally, well-meaning people will joke that I should enjoy all this lying around, all this being waited on business.
No. I don’t enjoy it at all. I don’t want to work on my tan. I don’t want people at my beck and call. To a fault, perhaps, I do not enjoy being helped and served and on the receiving end. And I know. It’s already been said– how good it is to learn these things- being a gracious recipient. Allowing people the pleasure of helping you.
But it doesn’t feel like a pleasure or a gift. It feels like a burden.
One big gigantic burden. Again.
(God. Seriously. Because the whole widowed/divorced suitcase is also being dragged along as well. Though not by me BECAUSE IT WOULD BE TOO EFFING HEAVY.)
For a person who is a do-er, a self-proclaimed DIY Girl, this is a nightmare. For a person who stubbornly wants to be independent, who loves to be alone, who would much rather figure it all out than have it done for her, this does not feel good.
As I was lying on the gurney, waiting to be wheeled into surgery, my dear, weary mother, looking over at my tear-stained face, said these words:
“You don’t have to keep tap dancing for us. It’s okay. We all love you. You are enough even when you can’t keep performing.”
But when tap dancing is your way of life, all you really want is to get back out on the floor.