i grew up not wanting for much (except a little more attention from boys maybe!), did well enough in school, graduated college, law school, met my husband, got married, had two kids, fell into an amazingly fulfilling career…it was all good. (and this is, of course, completely revisionist history because like most people, i was a miserable teenager/20 something who felt like a complete and utter loser who would never find actual happiness…like ever!)
then cancer showed up and took my mother, wrecking me really for a considerable amount of time.
and although i am recovering, living, even thriving, i am hardened.
having been through the trenches with my mother i am now full of knowledge and experience that i can share 18 months later in an almost clinical, emotionless and detatched way. probably much the same way that oncologists handle their patients.
i can assess how sick someone is by symptoms and i can be the one to warn a loved one about how little time left the person suffering may have, i can talk through what might happen next, and i can certainly offer solace for a friend who’s grieving and i can do all of this now without falling apart.
which is great on the one hand and incredibly sad on the other.
because although helping others, keeping it together and being emotionally stable is infinitely preferable to uselessness and inconsolable sadness, i like my mushy overly feeling self and i don’t want to be hardened.
luckily, it takes just the running into an old family friend who’s real link to me is my mother to send me back to that familiar emotional place that rests two layers beneath my recently hardened exterior. and for a minute, after i am initially annoyed that i’ve been reminded about what makes me sad, i relish the emotion. i cry. and i am comforted that i haven’t lost all of my ability to feel.
and maybe, down the road, i won’t be hardened anymore. and maybe i won’t be sad either.