Monday, March 9, 2015

Enough for Today

I'm writing today during a break in grading papers at the local Barnes & Noble cafe, aka the slowest internet in the county.  My earl grey is cold now, and the caffeine has already worked its way out of my system.  It's gray and misty outside, and I'm sleepy (a condition not helped by the fact that I'm grading the dreaded persuasive essay.)  Still, I am grateful for the mostly uninterrupted work time, even if I do have to keep turning up my headphones to drown out the two elderly gentlemen playing Point/Counterpoint next to me.  Part of me is imagining future Steve in a cashmere sweater vest and tassled loafers destroying their arguments over a black coffee, and then after a dramatic mic drop, heading out for a game of golf (still wearing the cashmere sweater vest but sans the tassled loafers.) Pretty sure he'd go for that vision today.

After another hectic bout of sickness, I seemed to have settled back into a semi-healthy routine over the past week.  So grateful for a weekend of nothing special with my family.  Sickness is so intensely personal, so solitary, that someone who already tends toward solitude can fall into a trap of isolation, huddling in my room with my books and quiet while everyone else keeps on living.  This weekend, I made a concerted effort to leave the house (together), to wander, to watch stupid kids movies, to not have a plan, to feel a part of the family unit and not just the troublesome accommodation that has to be made.

Chronic illness is lonely in a way that is difficult to explain to someone who has never lived inside it. No matter how many people care about you, no matter how many family members lovingly provide for you, illness is something you experience alone.  You are the one who can't just take off and do something spontaneous.  You are the one who can't be in the sun, or eat in restaurants, or climb stairs. Nobody else is exhausted by a short outing.  Everyone else is accommodating you (or not.)  You're an outsider in your own healthy, able-bodied family.  Their willingness to make adjustments for you only highlights their daily sacrifice on your behalf.  Some days, you're so grateful for their love and acceptance, and some days, you're just so sick of being the person that requires so much special attention.  Some days, you just want to be invisible, to have a camouflage of able-bodiedness.  

I long for a life that requires no explanation.  I'm tired of exceptions and accommodations and explanations and discussions.  I know everyone has their own issues, their own thing that makes them different or an outsider.  But somedays, I can't decide whether I wish my own pain and illness were either more visible or less.  If I wore a sign that listed my limitations, would it eliminate pointless conversations/explanations or simply become my label/identity?  Believe it or not, I have more interesting things to add to a conversation than yet another discussion of my dietary restrictions or my latest diagnosis.  And yet, I understand and even appreciate the sentiment.  Having people love and care for you, to ask questions about you is important and meaningful and beautiful, but for some reason, I can't really pinpoint, it frequently leaves me feeling more isolated instead of less.  It's a puzzle.

But for this weekend, I am grateful.  For a day-long Saturday outing that didn't require going home to nap/rest.  For a safe place to eat.  For a little girl who finds joy in having a parent at the end of each hand as she scurries across the street.  For a man who constantly searches my face for signs of fatigue or pain.  For a church family whose Sunday mornings always leave me feeling lighter and loved. For today, that is enough.

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