When you are the child of an incredible, but chronically sick parent, you tend to develop pre-grieving anxiety.
For the past many years, I’ve preemptively thought about how I will feel when push comes to shove. The exercise is painful and though I wonder if it is ridiculous, it is impossible to prevent my mind from somberly treading down that path. Mistimed feelings of sadness, frustration, self-pity, and fear flood my mind and it feels like I’m drowning. It’s a dark sort of practice, to grieve like this.
We got bad news this week. Push has come to shove, and though I believe that modern medicine and a lot of work will keep my family out of the red zone, I can’t decide if my years of practice are paying off or not. The feelings are what I expected in some ways, but they are physically manifested in a way that surprises me. I am hungry, but don’t want to eat. There’s a cold lump in my chest and I don’t want to disturb it because I’m afraid it will shatter. I’m frantically trying to be busy and stimulated because I’m terrified of the feels that are invited in by a quiet moment.
In simple words: this sucks.
I learned a long time ago that you can take sadness/grief/loss, absorb it, and let it become you. For a long time, I let myself do this, Somewhere along the way I figured out that I can take my sadness, absorb it, and convert it into something productive. The last step is tricky, but if I look for silver linings, however cliché it sounds, things become easier.
I’ve been overwhelmed by my silver linings. The thing I’m seeing past the obvious shittiness of the whole situation is that I and my family are surrounded by people who love us. The day I found out, I let my circle of people know and received messages and calls of concern from my closest friends. My siblings and I are holding spontaneous group calls. My brother went home to just be present (and play with the cat) and my sister is making steps to move closer to home. My family’s group text has become sweeter, sillier, and more active. New friends and coworkers who know what’s going on have been incredibly supportive, and I’ve been astounded by the honestly and vulnerability friends have extended toward me.
I am sad because I love my mother and family deeply, and I am terrified. But, I am loved deeply by the people around me. I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that we are surrounded by love. It helps.