Sometimes I cry because I’m sick.
The pain itself doesn’t make me cry, though there have been times when it has made me cry out. What makes me weep is the inversion of all that was normal in my life: health and lack of worry. Just when I think that I have accepted the new normal, frustration flares and I have to bury my head in my hands for a minute.
When I describe this it sounds familiar: it sounds like grief.
When I was first diagnosed I put off grieving for a time, because my symptoms were only occasional, and my disease didn’t affect my life that much. Perhaps I’d have one day a month of vomiting, and I’d have to go to the doctor a little more often. A part of me believed I wasn’t truly sick, that this would go away and not be a nuisance.
That has changed: I’m now on meds that require blood tests every two weeks. How’s that for a nuisance? My doctor wants to step up my treatment to include some heavy treatments that will bring the constant worry of side effects. I consider and resist and research and pray and then think “Who is this woman? Who have I become?”
And that is why I grieve. I cry for my youth, for my ignorance, for my health, for the person I left behind when I was diagnosed. She was not any better or more valorous than the woman who looks out at the mirror from me now, but she was different, and now she is gone.
I should be over this by now. I should be acclimated, but we all know that grief never truly goes away. It continues to remind you of its presence when you least expect it, and if you’re like me perhaps you find yourself at your desk with tears in your eyes while a group of students is taking a test.
Would that this knowledge made me more compassionate or offered me some sort of benefit, but I fail to see evidence of that. I look for meaning and don’t find it. I look for consolation but nothing presents itself to me. I look for progress and I blame myself for clinging to the injustice of it all, for failing to accept my suffering.
I believe there is grace in taking up my cross, but I can’t help but look behind me at that unencumbered girl who thought she understood what mysteries the future can hold.