Recent events have me pondering a lot on how society deals with death and illness. It seems that when it’s happening to someone else, there’s a definite ‘handle with care’ approach. People are so afraid of upsetting or offending you that the end result is that very little is actually said to the person it is happening to. I’m guilty of the same thing myself in the past. Naturally, I would think that the person would talk about it if they want to, and I should take their lead on it as opposed to broach the subject myself and risk saying the wrong thing or prodding them before they are ready. The reality of it is so much different to how I perceived it. More often than not, the person is talked about rather than to.
Illness is such a lonely place. It can make you feel isolated, no matter how many people are around you. More than anything, you want to feel normal, like a part of things. It makes us human. It gives us strength. Not being able to openly speak to other people for whatever reason, without pointing fingers, is the thing that either sets us apart or makes us feel supported and included.
I’ve been with Mike throughout this whole ordeal, and even though we know each other inside out and have been together every step of the way, I’m never going to understand what he feels firsthand. I suppose the thing that makes us so close is that we talk to each other about the scary stuff, that people find hard to bring up. We’ve gotten even closer than we could have ever imagined, because we tell each other the bad stuff along with the good.
At first I thought it would upset Mike, seeing me sad over him, and make him feel more depressed and powerless. And yeah, it can, but more importantly, it makes him feel involved and cared for because at least he knows the effect he has on me and knows for a fact how much I will miss him when he’s gone. It’s always the little things that make a big difference. If you’re about to leave this world, you want to know you’ve made an impact and that people will miss you when you’re gone. We’ve learnt along the years how important it is to be honest and open about what you’re feeling, even if it doesn’t come naturally. It’s strengthened our bond and made us stick together as a team. It’s come to my attention that this may have been taken the wrong way, like we haven’t let anyone else in.
We both apologise for our part in this and if we have unknowingly offended anyone. The reality of it all, is that we are just trying to get by. It’s hard to worry or realise for that matter, if we are upsetting people, when our heads are so full. Full with our worries, fears, anxieties of what will become of us… whilst trying to find a healthy balance between addressing our concerns, yet trying to make the best of things and spend quality time together while still possible. We may have a good day that lifts our spirits, but know that around the corner we need to talk about funeral plans, wills and end of life decisions. Mike has to deal with appointments and nurses and whatnot, popping in every few hours at least, sometimes being in pain, or simply needing a break from the constant invasion of privacy. For that reason, we have to live in the moment. It may make us miss the little things, or obvious things, because sometimes all we can see is what is directly in front of us, smacking us in the face.
I’d written this post a while ago and debated over whether to hit publish for fear of making things worse and having things misinterpreted again. My self-confidence has taken a major hit over this past week. But I feel it’s more important for people to understand what it’s like from our end. At the end of the day, this is what is true for me and Mike (I always check with him first to make sure I’m not misrepresenting him). You can take it or leave it. This whole experience has been a continuous learning curve for us. There’s no perfect way to handle things because we’ve never done it before. Life is messy. Thankyou to those who have showed us support through this difficult time, whether openly or subtly. We appreciate it all the same, even if it may not come across that way. It’s always going to be hard, but we’re doing the best we can.
Claire and Mike