When I posed the Hump Day Hmm questions, I wanted to make the first ones an either/or for myself. My brain went around and around, and I wrote countless discarded drafts about what I'd lose had I missed the last twenty years versus what I'd lose in the next twenty years.
If I forced myself to address the paradox (paradoxes, really) or admit that each is equally potentially tragic---which I think it is---I'm still left without an answer. So I pushed on.
It finally struck me last night that the twenty years ahead of me aren't mine yet. I have no guarantees of them, what they might hold or even whether I get them. It's like the lottery: you play hoping to win but accept that you might not. I realize we more have a reasonable expectation of having the time, but again, we don't know what it holds.
So if I had to choose, I'd say it's harder to give up what I have had, already know and have experienced, the twenty years behind me. And albeit reluctantly and with grief, I can more easily imagine losing the next twenty years.
I'm sure almost forty would seem as old to my still teen self as almost sixty seems to me now. Both cases lose youth.
I dread the thought of missing my daughters' growing up without me, more for their sake than my own, but yes, selfishly, for me too.
And all the rest.
But the truth is, I haven't got that time; despite reasonable expectation, it isn't mine yet.
So were I to lose it, and then wake from a coma, how would I go about reconciling myself?
I don't have to project a future me, since this me would be the awakening person. I'd be pissed off, bitter. I'd have a twinge every time anyone told me a story about my kids---and the twinge would range from grief to fury in some varying degree. I'd feel horribly guilty for the burden I must have been to my family. I'd be disoriented, a late 30s mind in a late 50s body. Nothing and nobody would be as I left.
And where would they be, who would they be for me and who would I be for them?
I know the unusual thing about that Polish man is that everyone, by which I mean his wife, patiently waited for him to wake up. His wife was still his wife, he was still her husband...and probably still the husband she recalled. That's a pretty good cushion for landing in a case like this. I understand the adjustment, but the frame is still there.
Could I expect to have a spouse waiting?
It seems unreasonable, unfair, unlikely. I don't know how many years a person could wait. It seems like that woman must be unusual.
Persistence would have no memory of me, and Patience's memories would be thin, reedy, more likely wishes than fact. They would know I was mother but would not feel like I was mom.
I'd have to earn back any roles left to me.
I'd have to work hard for peace and forgiveness. I think, were it just a bad luck of the draw, it would be easier to get over than if it had been some negligence or similar. But I know enough to know that forgiveness is an ongoing, evolving thing in cases like this, for me anyway, and that I'd spend the rest of my life forgiving and accepting one aspect or another.
I can only hope that the forgiving and accepting stayed ahead of the grief, anger and bitterness, but I'm honest and experienced enough to know that some days that wouldn't be true.
Not many of you tackled this roundtable (so far) but there is still time. I don't blame you, eschewing it. It's a tough one. Unpleasant, frustrating and at times painful, to tell the truth. Still, for me, the exercise was good. I remembered the value in what I have, and accepted the future is outside my control. I remembered to thrive in today.
So here are the few, the brave, the should-be-proud because they tackled this head-on eloquently:
Chani with Forgiving Serendipity
Gwen with A Touch of the Hamlet
Sober Briquette with At This Moment
Christine wrote Hump Day Hmmm
Mary-LUE wrote Hindsight is 23/43
Let me know if you need to be added to this list (and you? oh yeah you need to be. ;) )
Next week (next Wednesday):
Accident of birth
Yes, that's it. Accident of birth. Tackle this from any angle you like: disabilities, geographic or socioeconomic, resources and privileges (or lack thereof), etc. Make it personal (your own story, someone you know, etc.) or general (a world event, current event, situation). Talk about the justice, injustice, and forgiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with some sort of ongoing inequality due to an accident of birth. Go big or small.
If you need more guidance, feel free to comment or email me to discuss. :)
And thanks to Chani for the idea.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert