We’ve all heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I wholeheartedly agree that the things we go through shape who we are. It’s how open we are to learning from experiences that determine how we grow though. For example, if you’re not open to learning from mistakes, you’re most likely to make the same mistakes over again and not really learn anything. On the other hand if you have the strength to learn from what life gives you, you’re more likely to come out of it stronger in the long run.
It’s a good theory, and it’s one that I try to remember to live by. But sometimes, I find myself thinking “I don’t want to be any stronger.” I don’t want another life lesson that kicks my ass so that I come out stronger on the other end. In other words, I want a break. I’m sick of having jobs that suck and challenge my ethics, I’m sick of having this stupid mystery illness that no one can figure out how to treat, and I’m sick of worrying about my mom and my grandpa.
I was convinced a few days ago that my grandpa who lives with us was within days of dying. I totally freaked myself out and did all sorts of awfulizing in my head to “prepare” myself for the worst. Then the next couple of days he was a lot better and so I was better. Today he’s back to acting like he’s giving up and shutting down. He hasn’t wanted to eat or drink, he’s slept almost all day, and he’s spent hours just laying back in bed or in his recliner with a warm compress over his eyes. It’s not like I expect him to be up and running marathons… he is 97 years old. We’ve had hospice in place for a few months now; he qualified for it not because they thought he was going to die soon but because of his age and because his Congestive Heart Failure isn’t going to get any better. He is, however, regressing. No one can say how quickly he may progress, and it’s been pretty clear this week that it’s a day by day sort of thing. But man does it suck. Never knowing how he’s going to be one day to the next. Wondering if today’s going to be the day I get a call telling me I need to come home from work early because he’s getting worse.
Of course I want what’s best for my grandpa. I don’t want him to suffer. I also know that being here at home with us is what he wants and that if he’d been in a nursing home or a hospice facility he probably would have been gone a long time ago. He wouldn’t have been here to sit on the deck the other day playing catch with a foursquare ball with my niece and nephews in the sun or to tell me yesterday while I was knitting about how his mom used to knit mittens for him as a kid. These are things I’m grateful for. Is this all making me stronger? Sure, I guess so. I know some day I’ll feel like it, but right now I’m just tired.
So if I seem a little out of it, I don’t talk as much, I cancel plans, or I’m a little forgetful… please be patient. It’s just that I’m pretty busy right now learning how to be stronger. 🙂
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A.A. Milne