” I don’t know how you deal with this.”
“I complain so much and this is what you’re dealing with.”
“You’re so strong.”
“I can’t imagine going through what you have.”
These are some of the all the very kind words I hear from friends, family members, nurses or strangers. And although they are nice to hear and I am forever appreciative, I must stop them and remind them that we are all human, and we all have our own shit to deal with.
I quickly learned the importance of a good support system. At first I really struggled with the idea of inconveniencing others. I know that at a staff meeting my boss doesn’t mind ordering me a different meal because I can’t eat pizza. But I minded asking. My best friend understands when I say I can’t go to the Junos with her. But I cringed at the thought of breaking the news. My Dad enjoys watching the basketball game on a tiny old TV in the hospital because he’s with me. But I know a big screen and recliner are nicer. And my mom is okay when I charge the hospital Wi-Fi to her visa… Well I was actually okay with that too. But one of the biggest things I learned was to give people more credit. This is what they are here for. If your friends and family cant bring you bags of 2-ply toilet paper then who else can? I don’t know if there is any other disease that is more vulnerable than Crohn’s or Colitis but when your support system says they don’t mind helping you in some way, believe them. Be selfish.
I am not stronger or braver than you. I honestly believe the people in my life have courage and capability just as much as I do. I’ve witnessed it.
My work family is the perfect example of a group of people all dealing with their own issues. Yet we put them aside as we come together to run a centre filled with learning, laughter and bright young minds. Whether it be a single mom, someone with anxiety, a heartbreak, a loss, marital issues, a child with extra needs, financial struggles, health issues, or distance between family members…we take care of each other.
- To my lifelong best friend who shows ambition and excitement as she embraces wedding planning, a new house and a new job: You keep everyone laughing and intrigued with your lively stories and exude confidence and enthusiasm.
- CC takes on the weight of the world as she cares for her Mom and is a strong leader for her family: You present a positivity and optimism that is admirable and commendable.
- B is Super Woman who strives to achieve the very best with an incredible work ethic taking on more than the average person can imagine. You tackle school, work, a house, a partner, finances, and being not only mine but everyone’s go-to, ride or die, partner in crime and best friend. You make everyone feel special and confident while putting yourself on the back burner.
- Lex carries a heavy heart being the rock of her family dealing with the 2 loves of her life. I cannot empathize with being a Mama as demanding and exhausting as it is but you embrace it with enthusiasm, warmth and so much love. All while being the ultimate caregiver to a husband and best friend, filling your home with affection, respect and laughter.
- Shmeg demonstrates a vulnerability through her independence yet accepts those in her family who rely on her with such substantial hardship. You take on others concerns as if they were your own and are always sure to check in with them first.
- My person hides her own distress while taking on mine. You persevere in a job you hate (and I can relate to) yet little munchkins look up to you with love and admiration, and parents trust you with their little lives. You plan a wedding lacking support from important individuals but maintain grace and elegance. You are by my side while you begin a new chapter in your life, ensuring I am not left behind.
- My sister takes on heartache, a surgery of her own, a demanding summer job and a education program benefiting underprivileged children in Jamaica. You never complain and demonstrate a maturity and wisdom beyond your years. When I say we all have our own shit, I mean that in the sense that you do, but you also take on mine when you bring me toilet paper or towels.
- And my parents: My mentors, my role models, my heroes. The ones who take on the weight of a sick child. Who build and maintain homes with devotion, closeness, comfort and love, while separate or together. These are the ones who care for their own parents, a second daughter, themselves and endlessly care for me. I don’t even know where you own shit begins and ends but I know that to you, it doesn’t matter. Because you are parents.During my second hospital visit it, in the middle of the year, it seemed like everyones issues were erupting all at once. And while I listened with concern I also heard the humility as my people passively shared their issues, feeling shame to pour their hardship to someone sitting in Med6. But here is the thing: WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN SHIT. We all experience adversity and pain, and challenges. I don’t sit in the hospital and think, “Well at least I’m not blind.” Just like someone who is fighting with their sister does not need to see me and think “Well at least I don’t have diarrhea 20 times a day.” Maybe its selfish but I think it’s okay to recognize your own anguish and reflect on it as being hard. We too often try to dismiss our own pain as we take on others but its okay to feel your own grief. I am not going through anything more or less difficult than you. Just different. And that’s what your people are here for. To lean on. We take care of each other and I am endlessly thankful.