I have walls that protect me inside my home. I have skin that protects the systems that keep my body operating. And I have boundaries to protect my heart from pain, hurt, and disappointment.
I’ve gotten better at communicating my boundaries, and caring less about how others feel about them. I’m fragile. I lost my child. My heart hurts so much, all the time. And if I can make it hurt just a little less, then I will do what’s necessary.
My heart has been hurting terribly lately. This is the month we were told our only child had cancer. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. I fear losing my parents and I fear for my own survival. There are a lot of people hurting others right now, and there are a lot of circumstances causing worldwide pain. It’s heavy. And I feel like I might crack right down the middle.
As I was filling my pill containers today with a week’s worth of transplant drugs to keep my kidney working and prevent my body from fighting it, I thought about the weeks following my surgery.
My only responsibility was to know the names of those drugs, how many to take, and when to take them. That was it. I was not working. I was living with my parents and paid no rent. My only job was to do exactly as I was told, and take my meds.
I’m very good at doing exactly as I’m told. I aim to please, most of the time, and I don’t like to fail others in any way. This week, I tried doing exactly as I was told. While holding my fragility very close and attempting to keep on task, I failed miserably. My body rejected my attempts and I ended up feeling physically exhausted, sick to my stomach, with my heart pounding in my head, every single day.
Because now, I have a lot more to do than fill a box with pills. I have a full-time job, which I am doing from home, while helping my first-grade son also attend school from home. I have a mortgage and a dog. I have a husband, who thank goodness, is still around and still loving me. I have a life, that we’ve created, and I don’t have the luxury of just shutting down.
But this week, I could have used a shut-down. I should have closed due to COVID-19, sent an out-of-office message, and just turned it all off.
But I’m not quite that confident in my boundaries yet. I know I have people depending on me. I have work that needs completed. I have to pay the mortgage, and all the other bills, and login to online school with my son, and get shit done.
If I don’t get my shit done, chances are, no one else will. I have people supporting me and life won’t be over if I take a week off. But I know I need to figure out how to do all of these things that are now my responsibility—choices I’ve made to work, and parent, own a home, and remain married. I have to do all that, during the darkest times. I can’t just quit all the choices I’ve made because some days are just too hard.
I’m learning how to grieve additional lives lost. I grieve the loss of my son with all of my heart. And losses that have followed have broken me, over and over again. But somehow, I put myself back together. And every time, I think, now they get to be with my sweet son in Heaven.
And that’s the goal. Someday, if I do this life right, and I learn what I’m supposed to learn, and grow in the ways I need to grow, someday we’ll be together again. It’s that part that is so hard to remember, when all I can feel is the muscle-tightening, tear-inducing, gut-wrenching pain and agony caused by his absence from me. Me, without him. I can do more than put pills in a box. But some days, it feels completely impossible.