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On Being Strong

I sometimes get tired of hearing people say how brave/strong I am. I know I am bad at taking compliments. But more than that; I don’t feel brave or strong.

I didn’t have any other choice. Believe me, I would have taken it if I did. I didn’t have the luxury of falling apart. I’ve wanted to. Many, many times in my life. But I couldn’t.

When people heard that I needed heart surgery they’d say: ‘You could die. You should go do everything you’ve ever wanted to do.’ Thanks for reminding me.

I would have loved to everything I’ve ever wanted to do. But I couldn’t quit my job because I needed the insurance so I could afford the heart surgeries. And I also needed money to do almost everything I ever wanted to do. Going to New Zealand might have proven difficult with $83 in the bank.

If lying down in the middle of the road would have helped; I can assure you, I would have. I was tempted to sometimes. But I didn’t. If refusing my prognosis would have prevented those surgeries, I would have refused it. But it wouldn’t have.

I had to keep going to work every day. And do my job. Knowing that surgery date was looming. Knowing that the 8 hour day I worked in a job I hated might be the last Monday I’d ever see. It might be my last August 3rd ever. But there was still work I had to do.

I think knowing it’s coming is one of the hardest things. Just having to sit and wait. Knowing that every moment takes me closer to that one that might be my last.

I mean, I know that every moment IS taking me closer to what will be my last. But I hope that last moment is many years away.

It was hard to plan for my own death. I had to make a living will and an advance directive. I had to decide what I wanted done with my body. I had to write goodbye letters to everyone I loved. And that was made even harder by my indifferent or dismissive partners, and the refusal of my family and friends to talk about it.

I WANTED to talk about me dying. I needed someone to talk to when there was a very real possibility of it happening to me. I know it’s hard for some people to talk about it. But I was about to have heart surgery. Nobody could let me talk about it? I had to keep all my fears and anxieties bottled up because nobody would give me an outlet.

And I wanted to know that everyone was emotionally prepared for me dying. I wanted to force them to realize that I might not wake up from surgery. That if they had something important to tell me, it was now or never. But they didn’t.

That was the hardest part. Having no outlet. Having nobody to talk to. Doing what I had to do wasn’t that difficult. I had no choice. But doing it alone was that difficult. Because I wasn’t alone. I was just made to face it all alone.


3 responses »

  1. Wandered over here from Aussa’s… Pardon me, but does ms stand for “MS”, as in Multiple Sclerosis? I did notice that and wonder.

    Apologies if that’s too blunt. And if I’m flat wrong, please tell me so. I skimmed through a number of your posts briefly and they reminded me of some of what my father is going through. Reminded me of the thoughts and feelings *I* have had.


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