Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I would do it if I could

A death, an illness (or three), a family struggle and here I sit in the sun on the back porch unable to do anything.

"Can I do anything?", I ask. "You could take the treatment for me, and I would be the one to get better", he replied.

I would, if I could.

A few years ago my younger brother put together a dvd of family photographs - a slide show - with the soundtrack of ColdPlay's 'Fix You' playing in the background.

I sobbed uncontrollably the first time I watched it. Pictures of my mother and father and siblings from a time long ago. A time when, in my mind, we were the quintessential happy family.

I still weep when I see it - I weep out of poignancy, out of regret, out of feelings of missing my father so profoundly, out of realizing that in those photos there was still possibility.

The possibility that cancer wouldn't strike, a virus wouldn't strike, estrangement wouldn't strike.

I think, as the proverbial middle child, I have just wanted to fix everything for everyone. I think in the process I broke things, especially myself.

Lately the phrase "Depression is anger turned inward" has been rattling around inside my brain. I don't like this phrase; I never had. The first time I heard it a fourteen year old boy I know was struggling with anxiety and sadness. I blamed myself for not being able to fix it. I blamed myself for perhaps being the cause.

Recently I remarked to my husband that I was trying to protect him from something that brings him frustration. The content doesn't matter. What he told me does. "You are not responsible for my issues around this. You don't have to fix it for me."

I don't have to fix it. Now, there's a thought.

Last night I remember feeling 'Why won't anyone let me help them?" Because, dear one, it is not your job to fix everything. Sometimes in the midst of family struggles and health issues, and angst it is your job to be there, to listen, to help if asked, to not burden them with your anxiety, to let go and let god.

And sometimes, as a stanger told be yesterday, you have to give it time. Time for wounds to heal, and memories to fade.

And, dear one, that time is not a day, or a week, but perhaps months or years.

So listen up - you don't have to fix everything. You have to remember "It will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, it is not the end".

I have to trust that if someone needs my help they will ask. If someone wants to see me they will call. If someone has something to say they will say it.

Meanwhile I have prayer, compassion, and a shoulder to cry on. I thank god for that shoulder, that companionship, that often silent support.

So I am praying the chemo will work, the move will unfold smoothly, and that time will, in fact, heal all wounds. I am not sure about the last one - for some wounds to heal there has to be forgiveness, and I know I am not there yet.

I don't know if I believe there can be forgiveness without an apology, or explanation having been given. I am told there can be, but I don't know if that is true for me.

As I said at the beginning: I would if I could.

1 comment:

  1. My father once gave me an expression: comprendre, c'est pardonner. I love it so much, I had it inscribed on his gravestone. To understand is to forgive.
    My brothers and I carried a lot of anger toward our father. I worked through mine. Accepted that I had a right to be angry, then looked at why he was who he was, accepted that given where he started, he'd done his best, looked at the good things he'd given me and I forgave him.
    I told this to my brothers and the older one quoted "you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din". The younger didn't comment. That's when I mentioned that the anger didn't hurt dad any more. He was gone. But the anger did hurt them, it ate away - maybe caused depression even.
    Forgiveness isn't for the one who wrongs, forgiveness is for the one who is wronged. It brings peace. The first step is to look at the anger, acknowledge it and give yourself the freedom to feel it to its fullest. And then, move on to understanding. Apologies aren't necessary, often not possible. But with understanding comes forgiveness


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