I've been wanting to write something shareable, perhaps even clever, for awhile now. But, my muse is an elusive, fickle, and cantankerous bitch. I've not been able to pin her down lately. Yesterday, I read a blog post that reminded me why I write and why I persist even when my muse has gone walkabout.
I rarely click the 'publish' button for the things I write on those days. I've been having one of those days for about six months now. The blog post I read made me wonder if that was a mistake. Maybe. Many times the things I write are very personal. I write these things to get them out of my head so I can sleep or study or just enjoy a movie now and again. I decided long ago that if I felt those things were too personal, too uninteresting, or just plain too whiny, I wouldn't share them. This is why:
Where I was raised, your reputation was, and I suspect still is, everything. You were free to be yourself behind closed doors when nobody was around. But, in the light of day, you had to conform to the norm. Wear the right things, say the right things, cast the right votes or risk being ostracized by your community and possibly even your own family. Try as I might, I've never been especially good at conforming. Just ask anyone I went to high school with if you can get them to admit they remember me.
I am so tired of trying.
I just want to say what I need to say. I'm not looking for sympathy, although that's a nice thought. I'm not really looking for support either because I have that in spades with the vast collection of friends, 'friends', family and co-workers I've collected. I'm also not looking for validation because, frankly, the very need for validation has gotten me where I am today. All those things can be offered, but I'm not soliciting them. Realistically, I don't expect many people to see and actually read this page.
With apologies to my mother, here goes.
My Mom is a gentle and loving woman. She is funny and brilliant. She is strong and formidable. She commands respect and offers the same in return when it has been earned. She is a survivor. She is a private person who guards her feelings and opinions carefully. She has been the cornerstone of my life for all of my life. We have not always gotten along and that's as it should be, I think. She has taught me every important thing I have ever needed to know whether I listened or not. She is a part of me in a way that I cannot adequately describe with words.
Recently, her health has become fragile and she has had to adjust to a new normal for her. She requires a lot more help with things than she is accustomed to getting. The adjustment has been a challenge for her but she has met it with grace and dignity even after the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do for her and it is really just a matter of time. Since the initial shock of it all, I have seen not a trace of fear in her and I think I know why...finally. And I could kick myself for being so daft.
I think people live their lives not thinking too sharply about how it will end. They sort of look at it out of the corner of their eye because to stare it down face-to-face is akin to offering temptation...even taunting...for death to bring it on. The manner in which an individual's life will end is a big mystery even to those who believe they know what comes next. That seed of doubt is sown in all of us.
Yes, it is. I mean no disrespect. But in your darkest hour, you know it's true.
As someone who struggles with a major depressive disorder, I've thought long and hard about how I will die. At times, I've carefully planned it myself. For me, the very act of doing that kept me from actually carrying out my plan. Knowing that I had a plan and that if life simply got to be too much to bear, I had an 'out' made things more bearable for me. Although having examined death so closely has left me with little fear of my own end, I have no current wish to end my life. In fact, it's been a long time since I thought about it in detail. But, my Mom's illness brought it back to the front of my mind. Not necessarily my own plan. Her plan.
She knows now. She knows how her life will end. The drama and the tension and the not knowing have gone and although there is still some seed of doubt about the details, she has her 'out.' That simple truth is at once liberating and heart shattering to me. Really, I don't know why I didn't see it sooner. I worked with Hospice for several years and I saw the peace on the faces of the clients I served on a daily basis. They had their 'out.' Most of them were ready when the time came and many times I was there to hold a hand or witness that final breath and wait for another until it had just been far too long. It was nerve wracking at times. Their families faced the real struggle.
That struggle has become very personal to me. I know everyone handles it in their own way and I'm working through it. At times, I feel a bit fragile myself.
I guess, in the end, this post is a sort of apology to everyone I know. I wear my heart on my sleeve most of the time. I didn't get that super power that some folks have that keeps their emotions in check and firmly tamped down at all times. To my shame, I am often prone to inappropriate displays of emotion that make the 'normal' people uncomfortable. So, I do apologize for how I am. But I will not try to stifle it any longer. It is a part of me as much as anything else. My attempts to conform to the norm have left me confused and exhausted. I'm tired of it so I'm going to stop it now. I am what I am. Peer pressure be damned.