Saturday, October 13, 2018

Writing Prompt Saturday ~ Being Open About Living With Illness (Thank you Claire Wineland)



**I've left names out in respect, and to protect the privacy, of those I'm writing about. They can share their individual stories when they are ready to.**

Yesterday evening while cleaning up after supper, I got a phone call from one of my kids' friend's mom. Normally, at least I've found around here, moms of my kids' friends don't usually call me unless there's a sleepover or Birthday party involved, or something terrible happened that involved one of my kids. Because this was the mom of my second oldest, the one I don't worry about quite as much, I had a gut instinct that something was wrong.

First of all, she called my landline. Not many people call the landline because we never answer it and everyone in the house has phones that we can be contacted on. When I saw her number on the call display, my stomach tightened. I just knew. Secondly, as soon as I asked her how she was, the only response I got in return were several seconds of silence, a  lot of 'um's' and sniffing that I could hear even though I could tell she was holding back.

Now, I was pre-warned, in a sense, that something might be going on because her beautiful daughter, who is more like one of my kids than simply my daughter's best friend, told me the last time she was over that her mom found a lump in her breast and had to get things checked out more closely. She was visibly shaken, as her mom is her rock. I advised her that she shouldn't worry herself too much yet until they had more information. I let her know that it's easier said than done not to be scared, because...well...it's her mom. I reminded her that her mom is strong, brave and will do everything in her power to fight whatever challenges she may have to face. Finally, I told her that I'd be here if she needed anything, as I have since she was in Preschool, and she gave me a hug.

So, when her mom called and I was finally able to help her find her voice to talk to me, she let me know that she does indeed have cancer and it has spread to her lymph nodes. She also revealed to me that she still needs to go get further tests performed to know how far it has spread, and what sort of treatment options are available to her. Her mom, like I and all moms, does so much for everyone else, regardless of what else is going on. Plus, she's had to deal with her husband's severe illness as well and helping her daughter through that too. I wondered if she'd known she was sick during all of that, but put it off to do what she felt she needed to for her family.

I totally 'get' that.

I let her know we'd be here for their family and, also, to let me know what we can do to smooth the rough ride ahead for them a little bit. Do you know what she said to me? "I really just would appreciate it if your daughter could come and keep mine company. They've always been able to be the pillar of strength for each other. And I know that your family has also been touched with severe illness and are dealing with it so I hope you don't mind my reaching out."

Do I mind? She is going through all of this crap already, and will have to face even worse in the times ahead, and all she's asking is that her daughter can lean on mine? What a selfless woman she is. I have to reveal here that her daughter (and mine) was who gently made me go to the emergency room when my own health plummeted to a level where if I'd waited much longer, I wouldn't be here to post about it today. Period.

Do I mind?

Today's writing prompt is dedicated both to my daughter's friend's mom, as well as to the beautiful girl in the video above, Claire Windland, who passed away recently at the very young age of 21 from complications of Cystic Fibrosis. She could have stayed inside, sheltering herself from the world and pitying herself. But she didn't. She went out all the time giving talks about how society should learn more about those living with illness and reach out to, not feel sorry for, them and for what they're going through. Learn about their condition, see how you can help without being intrusive, respect when they still want to keep going on doing what they do while reminding them, gently, to rest...and be there for those phone calls.

Write about illness, if you're experiencing it. Jot down every emotion you feel whether it's fear, worry, anger, depression, or a sense of loss or control. How can you make others understand that you aren't full of self-pity (although, this is allowed from time to time...it's natural) or lazy because you need to sleep more often? What would you tell others when they say, "Just eat" when your treatments cause nausea or vomiting? If you are helping someone else with illness, dig deep and ask the same questions but include your feelings about how you will see things once they are no longer here? What words can you offer them to inspire them to keep fighting or remind them you may not totally understand what they're going through, but you will support them in every way you possibly can?

Sometimes keeping a daily journal in this situation is invaluable. I know it always has been for me.

Take care and write well.

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