My dear sibling, I write because there’s something I need to put square between us. You see, we share so much – genetics, parents, upbringing. Out of all the people in the world, I am most like you. However much we may differ in temperament and character, our blood binds us together.
To my sick sibling,
Illness will always be something between us,
Yet there’s one thing we do not share. You are sick and I am not. You struggle with your health and it will always be something you think about, whereas my life is not like that. You have doctors’ appointments and medication and a whole world into which I can never enter fully.
I wonder, sometimes, how this makes you feel. Do you ever feel guilty when you get attention, or when people tell you how brave you are? Do you ever feel jealous of me? Do you ever look at me and wish we could swap lives, swap bodies, swap trials?
Do you ever want to strangle me, because I can be carefree and you must be responsible? Or do you ever hate yourself because you look at me and feel weak and needy in comparison?
Sometimes we simply want an escape from reality… but can distraction really be a good and valid response to suffering? I want to say… yes.
How I distract myself when tragedy strikes:
Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself turning more and more to ‘distraction’. That’s why you haven’t heard much from me! By that I mean, I’ve re-ignited my passion for writing essays, for reading fiction and fan-fiction, and drawing.
In the past month or two I’ve…
This is an oft-quoted-out-of-context verse, but raises an important question: What if you can’t give? Is receiving only second best?
What if you feel like you do all the receiving and none of the giving?
Not all of us are positioned to ‘give’ at all times, in all places. Or sometimes when we do give, our gifts end up being more a hindrance rather than a blessing.
Have your dreams ever been broken? Have you ever wept because something you hoped for will never be?
A ‘broken dream’ sounds like something from a fairy-tale or a Shakespearean sonnet, something which doesn’t quite happen in the 21st century.
Are you brave enough to admit to having broken dreams?
We all have dreams
Who lives entirely in the present? Very few of us! Even if we don’t label them as such, I think we’ve all had dreams, hopes or idealisations of the future.
For some of us, these dreams will involve loving spouses and healthy children.
For others it might look like a peaceful retirement, a satisfying vocation or simply, security.
I am not going to say that I am thankful for my mum’s diagnosis. I’m not at that stage yet, and I’m not sure if I ever genuinely will be. Yet these past two weeks have left me with much to be thankful for.
So much more than I expected.
Yet I hesitate to share this reality, because it sounds too saccharine.
‘Practising gratitude’ has become a stock ‘self-care’ practice over the last few years and so I am scared of being ‘cliché’.
Not because clichés are wrong or embarrassing (we can’t all be hipsters and there’s really nothing new under the sun!) but because I don’t want my thankfulness to be seen as something artificial.
I am not thankful because I ‘ought’ to be, or because I ‘have’ to be, or because the Bible says I should be. I am thankful because I genuinely have a lot to be thankful for.
Last but not least, I can be thankful because I hold onto a Hope which exists in the aftermath. In the face of suffering and cancer leading to death forever, I would find it hard to be thankful for these things. Yet because I know these little bursts of light are only glimmers of what will come after death, I find I can be thankful.
Just because someone suffers from lupus, doesn’t mean they can’t get diagnosed with appendicitis.
Last week my mum who has type 1 diabetes and multiple chronic illnesses was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
It’s not fair.
And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be.
I’m going to try not to make this post a mere outpouring of my raw emotions, because that is neither helpful for others, nor in line with the tradition of this blog.
That said, such a diagnosis WILL impact my writing, and it’s not something I can keep quiet about. Partly because it’s real and leaking into every corner of my life, and partly because I hold out the hope that my reflections might help others going through similar trials.
When I think of ambition, I see someone fighting tooth and nail to get to the top of their career ladder
… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I imagine an athlete, struggling to stay ahead of their peers, striving for Olympic gold
… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I picture a work-a-holic father, shutting out his family and surviving on toast and beans in his desire for success
… and to be honest, that’s not me.
And yet, I’ve come to realise over the years that ambition can take different forms. Or perhaps what I am about to describe is not ambition exactly – and yet ambition is the best word I’ve found so far to describe it.
Ambition says, “I can do it all”.
What makes Ambition wrong?
What makes Ambition right?
Am I being called to give Ambition up? Am I okay with that?
And how can our ambition get in the way of our love for others and our calling to Watch?
I recently went to a conference where I met a lot of new people.
Which (necessarily) led to lot of introductions – and because this was a writing conference, it also led to a lot of answering the question: what do you write?
Which in turn led to explaining about this blog, and after that, about my Loved Ones – namely, my mum and my sister. After the first five times I got my ‘blurb’ down pat:
“I write a blog about loving people with chronic illnesses, as my Mum has multiple diseases including pernicious anaemia and type 1 diabetes (with all its associated problems) and my sister had a brain tumour and now her body does not produce any hormones.”
It was a ‘neat’ answer, but after offering it a couple more times I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable. I found it difficult to repeat, to the point where I had to practically force myself to say it and felt like I was rushing to get it over and done with.
April is done and dusted. What did you get up to? I read several interesting posts – on topics ranging from the difficulty of waiting, what to do when you are not healthy enough to read the Bible, and the unexpected blessings of a mangled toenail!
Let me know what you think!
Why do we have to wait?
Who doesn’t like to receive answers or healing straight away? Yet so often we are forced to wait. And waiting is hard. This post reminded me:
That a period of ‘waiting’ doesn’t have to be wasted time!
Why am I sick?
Will I ever get better?
What am I supposed to be doing with my life?
It can take courage to ask these questions. But sometimes, it can take even more courage to answer them.
Today’s post is the first in a series of articles called ‘Talking about Suffering’…
Talking about suffering is hard! (how do you know what to say?)
Figuring out the truths about illness, suffering and the big problems of life is difficult.
It’s a different sort of hard when you are not sick yourself. How often do you feel helpless in the face of such questions? How often do you feel ill-equipped to answer your sick friend’s frustrations?
Even if you ‘know’ the right response (whether that’s an answer, rebuke or piece of advice) you might not know ‘how’ to say it.