Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Guilt of a Different Sort

Post Soundtrack:  Always This Late by ODESZA

I recently found myself struggling with a new sort of guilt.  It seems outwardly like a rather silly thing to fuss over, and perhaps it is for some.  For me, however, perhaps this is part of the grieving process.  Either way, it was (and somewhat still is) a valid thing to mull over.

It was prompted by some subtle and some overt things happening that got me thinking.  Many people who are facing a serious illness, especially one that could potentially kill them, end up in a certain frame of mind, or so it seems to me.  This involves a way of thinking that's very close to the very popular idea of "YOLO" (otherwise known as "you only live once").  Specifically what prompted me was seeing that a friend of mine had taken her daughter and her friends out of school and driven them, with their horses, to the beach to spend the day.  A surge in the desire to set aside normal life and live to the fullest appears, to me, to be a natural way of dealing with one's sudden awareness of the fragility of life.

My difficulty is... I feel very little of that sentiment.  It hasn't occurred to me to pull my child out of school to simply go do something fun.  I don't think in terms of, "I want him to have happy memories while I can still make them with him."  Faced with the realization of this, I have to wonder... what is wrong with me that I don't feel this way?!

That is not to say I don't want him making memories.  I do!  But I only feel as much pressure and need to help him create them as I would if I wasn't sick.  I feel only bound by the time he has left being a 'child', not the time I may have left.  In fact, I don't generally think of "time I have left" at all, except out of a vague, nebulous fear of hospitals and such.  I feel no urge to go do something extravagant, adventurous, or unusual merely because of my Lupus.  I mean, I'd love to go hiking in the mountains (not gonna happen, but I can wish!) or strolling along an ocean cliff, but that is because I love those things, not because I have a limited lifespan.

But in discussing this with my husband, he had a very simple response.  "You are content."

That statement, both then and now, stops me in my tracks.  I am content?  It both feels like it's entirely true, deep down, but also seems utterly foreign an idea.  Content?  How can I be content?!  But it seems I am.  Even with my Lupus, I have a contentment that is somehow... transcendent.  It rises above and hovers below.  But it goes beyond contentment.  I also feel ultimately safe.  But that makes a great deal more sense to me than being content.

Upon talking with him more about it, I also decided that my contentment was partly due to preferring a quiet life.  I am indeed content to be here, in my home, attending church services, having good friends visit, and carrying on normal life with my family.  This is the good life, you see.  This is what love and memories are made of.  Not big adventures to distant places.  Yes, those must be amazing memories, but is my life somehow incomplete for it?  Not at all.  I don't feel I've missed out on anything if I never see Ireland, or never walk the Great Wall of China.  For me, all the pleasures of life are here, in the home, with my beloved ones.

But that is for myself.  What of making memories with my son?  That is harder for me to cope with.  Am I somehow denying him something I should be providing?  Does he need me to take him special places, or need me to set aside much more time to spend together?  Perhaps.  I can't answer that.  The only way to truly know if he needed it would be to look back and see from some future point.  Does that mean I should then make a great effort to fill a gap that may not exist?  Somehow I can't find it in me to say definitively yes.  He is rather like my husband and I... he is a homebody, enjoying the comforts of home and family and familiarity.  We spend quite a bit of time together... perhaps not what some would consider "quality time", but I can say with certainty that he knows I love him, that he is of great importance to me.

And yet...

There is a lingering, nagging feeling that I've got it wrong, and everyone else has the right idea.  I mean, what could be wrong with putting out the extra effort to make life special, just in case things go awry?  Is living the quiet life, sharing love and snuggles, and trying to keep things as 'normal' as we can... is that not enough?  This is the sense of guilt that is nagging my steps during this time of birthdays and gospel meetings.  Is the life I'm giving my son enough for him to treasure during the future, when I'm gone?  Is it enough to comfort him, enough to make him never forget how much I loved him?

All I can do is try my best, pray that it is enough, and try to let go of this concern that I should indeed feel guilty for not taking more action on something that seems to be such a basic human nature.