Thursday, November 22, 2012

Perspective: Not Your Typical Thanksgiving Post

Yesterday, I fought going to group therapy.  I missed it last Friday due to a lot of crying.  Monday I left after 30 minutes due to uncontrollable sobbing.  It's been an emotional week.  I know hormones play a huge part in this, but I feel as though I'm regressing.  It's also the onslaught of the holidays, which are proving to be difficult as ever this year.  But I put on my big girl panties, and left the house yesterday and went to group.  

It was a struggle for me to not completely lose it during the first session.  After that I chose the next session based on the room it was in (big, with comfy chairs and windows).  It was a good call.  The group itself was "Grief and Loss" - a real pick-me-upper for sure.  We all had stories, from the woman whose girlfriend committed suicide the week she was gone on vacation and the gf's family didn't acknowledge her, so she doesn't even know where she is buried or if she was cremated.  Myself and a friend who had to go through losses with no support from our partners at the time.  You get the idea.

And then...

A young woman who was new yesterday, with a spot slightly to the rear of the circle because of her wheelchair, spoke up.  It was near the end.  Most of us did not know her story.  And she said to the intern (essentially):

How do you suggest dealing with the grief that comes with the knowledge that your illness is terminal.  That the only other person you know of with the disease didn't live past 30.  What do you suggest I do?

Her speech was a bit longer, giving some of her history as an artist, and that she was fighting to continue to create while she could.  That when her hands had given out at one point she painted with her feet.
And more.

We were all silent, and the intern leading the group thanked her for sharing, said she honestly couldn't answer that question, and could she open it up to the group.

I looked over toward this incredible young woman, and a sign on the wall near her caught my attention just then.  The one about "dancing like no one is watching...." that ends with " like every day is your last."  And then I spoke.  I have no idea what prompted me to think I am qualified to speak on this type of heavy subject.  Maybe it was that I watched my grandmother fight debilitating disease for most of her life, and certainly all of the time I knew her, never letting it stop her from creating, giving, LIVING.  I don't know.

I told her that given her creativity, she has this amazing opportunity to leave a legacy.  To show others that life doesn't end with a diagnosis.  That her strength could be an inspiration to, for instance, children in hospital.  That she could TEACH the things she has learned, teach others to create.  You get the idea.

And this woman, this amazing woman who is trained in glass blowing, who continues to create in any manner possible despite her limitations, who is facing her own mortality with strength....she THANKED ME.  Me.

All I can think is that I am so incredibly thankful to be able to have the people in my life who are so incredibly inspirational.  For instance...the woman at the clinic who survived a concentration camp.  The woman whose husband disappeared to commit suicide while she was newly pregnant with their youngest child and has fought the battles necessary to keep her family together.  The women (and men) I've met who have fought in the IF trenches for years and years and who have so much strength.

All these people I know with strength like I can only imagine.

If they can survive, if they can stay the course, find the positive...then I can find my inner strength and fight back the fear.

For these friends, I will be forever thankful.

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