Sitting on my son’s lift recliner the other day, a heating pad on my lower back because I had pulled or twisted something doing nothing I could remember; wrapped in a hospital blanket, the thin sheet kind that is not too heavy but weirdly comforting maybe just for me because I had spent so many nights wrapped in them in the hospital rooms on different cots while the professionals took care of both me and my son, and unearthly responsibilities had not quite yet settled on my bare shoulders; cotton in my right ear because of some strange infection that I keep meaning to have checked out tomorrow, except tomorrow never gets here; my hair mussed; my clothes a splattered work of art from whatever I had served or cleaned, both human and K9, earlier that day; a box of tissues within reach; extra-large dropping white socks covering my feet, when the doorbell rang.
Really? My friend said to me after just one glance. Really? I feel like I’m visiting my grandmother in a nursing home.
Not sure whether to laugh or cry, I did both. I don’t feel well, I said. I’m so tired. My voice came out much whinier than intended, which made me laugh and cry even harder.
Relentless, knowing I needed to laugh more than cry, my friend kept firing at me. Old lady jokes, the ludicrousness of what I looked like, the difference between me now and me then, offering soft foods, lotions and Jean Nate, until my tears stopped and the laughter hurt.
And my gratitude for having that one person in my life who doesn’t tell me how inspiring I am; who doesn’t view me as super woman; who knows that miracle dust and angels do not actually dance above my shoulders and hearts of love and laughter do not float like bubbles throughout my house; who knows how often I fail and continually picks me up from ground level so I can fight the next battle; who can see me at my worst and not judge but just point out the absurdity of the situation; who lets me feel sorry for myself, but only to a point; who, at the last moment, steps in front of me to block my nose dive into oblivion by kicking me in the ass to keep going….my gratitude is beyond measure.
I do not ever feel like the inspiration I hear so often that I am, and it is nice to have someone recognize that I am often struggling, unsure, exhausted. That I am merely surviving.
“You’re such an inspiration” takes everything I do, every moment I suffer, I cry or I laugh and wraps it all up in pretty paper with a silk bow. And makes it less ugly. Less real. Even though it places me on a pedestal of sorts, a pedestal of words, I actually feel I am condensed, marginalized, defined by my role. And I feel as if I don’t rise every day, I am failing.
Most days, I’d prefer my heating pad and my hospital blanket to being someone else’s inspiration. I’d prefer to be made fun of for failing than feel weighted down and stressed out by the added responsibility of pretending to be supermom. It’s just so much easier to cope that way.
I wonder if I could get a senior discount.