It’s been somewhat of a synergistic week.
Someone I love is in the middle of some serious health issues. I’m not going into detail because it’s really not my story to tell but more than that, the physical details don’t matter. What does matter is that this person faces a very long and difficult road, and is frustrated and in a lot of pain.
And I am on the outside. I am able to listen and make phone calls or do errands, but completely unable to do what any of us who care really want to do: make it better.
While I can understand the frustration and isolation of illness better than others might, even this familiarity is not enough to bridge the gap. Being able to understand the emotional aspects of this situation does not make me feel any less useless, or helpless.
And with that, I stopped and realized what it must sometimes feel like for the people who love us—so much of all of this is out of their control, too. We often write and think about control in terms of our own bodies—what medications we take, what preventive steps we adopt, what can go wrong not matter how carefully we plan otherwise.
But those who love us have their own frustrations (and I know this is but one of many). They can do so many amazing things for us day in and day out and most of the time, that’s enough. Most of the time, we’re all probably too busy living to stop and think about it much. But every now and then, it must really stink to stand by and watch someone you love go through a bad spell and not be able to do the one thing you want to, which is to fix it.
A couple of years ago I wrote this piece on marriage and chronic illness. I re-read it today, with an even deeper respect for what it takes to make a relationship so much more than the sum of its challenges, and an even deeper appreciation for my husband, who for four yeas (as of today) has shown me what it means to put someone else’s interests above your own without hesitation.
I know I am one of the lucky ones.