Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What a year really means

It’s been a year and a month since my mom had her stroke. 13 months. That’s one month more than the average lifespan of someone with this type of cancer. And so far we haven’t seen any of the tumors show back up on the MRI, which means they’re still small and slow growing, so we probably have even more time. And that’s great, right? Yes. And no. Just a little bit of no.

Why? Why is there any no?

Because it’s really, really hard. It’s really, really hard, just as hard as it was when she first got sick. It’s hard to carry the fact that my mom is dying. It’s hard to keep have last events – last birthdays, last holidays, bringing extra significance to small events because she might not be around for the next one. It’s hard to see her start to decline – to see her have a harder time talking and walking, to see her getting more and more tired. It’s hard to balance work and family and classes and friends, life in two cities, ridiculous amounts of driving. It’s hard to take care of her, to take her to the bathroom, to make her meals (and to see her eating less and less), to do things around the house that she used to do and that my dad shouldn’t do. It’s hard, and it hasn’t really gotten easier.

It’s just as hard as it was when she first had the stroke. It’s just as tiring and emotionally taxing as it was at the beginning. Sure, I’ve built up my coping mechanisms so I can live a normal-looking life. But really, inside, it’s just as hard as it was before. Maybe even a little harder, because of fatigue.

And I still need help. I still need friends to take initiative with me, to check on me, to support me, because I can’t do this on my own. I still need people to pray, for me, for my mom, for my family. I still need to be received with patience and understanding, because I’m probably going to still act like an idiot, like lunatic, like someone out of control, like someone who is horrible at returning calls and emails. I still need hope. I still need truth. I still need love.

It’s still hard. It’s still tiring. But I guess, when it comes down to it, I wouldn’t trade this time with my mom for anything in the world.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Sometimes I feel bullied by the universe.

No matter what I want to happen, no matter what I expect life to be like, I’m overruled by the universe. And recently that overruling hasn’t been full of sunshine and roses. Instead I’ve been overruled by crap, pushed into a corner by shitty situations, silenced by suffering.

I’m being punched in the face by the universe. By the ugly, dark part of the universe. The part that doesn’t want me to ever have a voice, to ever stop feeling like a victim.

So what do I do? How do handle being repeatedly punched and kicked and beaten up for my metaphorical lunch money? (In this metaphor, my lunch money is anything good, and happy, and beautiful. My lunch money is my hope and my joy.)

Well, I sometimes cower in the corner. Though I wish I could say I’m strong enough to stay positive, to not be victimized, to persevere, often times I’m not.

And then sometimes, as I’m cowering in the corner, I remember that I’m not alone. I remember that I’m not even taking the full force of the punches. I remember that Jesus is taking the punches for me, that he’s putting his body between mine and the universe’s fist. I don’t have to be strong, I don’t have to be positive – he’s doing that for me.

And then sometimes, when I remember that (which doesn’t happen very often), I realize that I don’t have to cower in the corner. I don’t have to feel like the victim. I don’t have to give up my lunch money, because I’m not alone, I’m not without protection. And then I realize I can respond to the bullying in a different way – with laughter maybe, without fear, or with confidence that I won’t be completely overpowered.

It’s hard work. It’s hard to re-train myself to not respond in fear. It’s hard to remember that I’m not alone. I still feel the punches, especially when they come as a surprise. Cowering in the corner is still my first response.

But maybe, just maybe, I’ll slowly retrain my reflexes. Maybe someday I’ll skip the cowering and respond instead with confidence and laughter, with my lunch money intact. And it won’t be because I’m strong, and it won’t be because my skin is so thick I can’t feel it. It’ll be because I’m protected by the one who takes on all my pain, my hurt, my mistakes, and carries them himself. It’ll be because I’m not alone.