Grief is a small word that carries with it extensive emotions we are all familiar with. If we have not been introduced to grief then we haven't yet grown. The past two days have been a little rough, staying positive and keeping my mind occupied with daily tasks has been intruded with a little lump on my back. It bothers me that the lump comes as though it is in a straight invisible line from the surgical wound (from my VP shunt) that I have on my chest and it bothers me even more that it hurts, a lot. It has reintroduced some of the pain I used to feel just after surgery and yet, after such a major surgery, it is a waiting game to see when and how the lump can be removed. Yes, where is all that positive thinking when you need it the most?
A small part of me feels like grief is trying to slide itself through my window again, no matter how tightly I have shut it. That, this lump may mean something bigger and my biggest fear of having a second shunt surgery may materialise. Then, there's this other bit inside me that insists on having faith in God and in the belief that everything will be fine. How can it can get any worse from having brain surgery? A cartwheel of emotions indeed.
Am I fearful of grief? A little. I've had one too many long walks with it to know grief walks hand in hand with loss. It leads you on a path of self-discovery and it builds your character but with so much that has happened, I fear that I may not be able to handle anymore. I met grief at a very young age. At the age of three, I lost one parent to a bad heart and another to indifference. I grew up being repeatedly told that I was never good enough, that I would never amount to anything more than a street sweeper, that the mistakes I made were so grievous, I wasn't worth standing up for. Everybody else was worth listening to, I wasn't. On more than one occasion, I've been forgotten from a piano class or after school activity and this often meant waiting alone, hoping that I wasn't that invisible. So, yes, grief was a regular bedside companion the many nights I cried myself to sleep thinking one day, all this will be just a dream, that I too, would have a Daddy Warbucks somewhere out there.
When I was six, grief had me very confused. If anything, grief taught me grown ups make mistakes too and nobody, and I mean nobody is perfect. I had something precious taken from me. Something that a million dollars would never be able to restore. I would feel guilt, shame and blame for a long time before realising that the sexual impropriety I had experienced was not my fault. It would make me more aware of people who think they can make you feel small just so they can gloat in the sensation of awe they have, for themselves. And it would teach me that self-pity is a dish best served with stupidity because you will never move yourself forward emotionally and mentally.
Grief came and sat by my side when at the brink of receiving a much awaited internship, I was diagnosed with a rare and incurable condition, Pseudotumor Cerebri. Half of it seemed like a joke. And the other half, was a mental and emotional state I could not cope with. My first lumbar puncture. My first sense of losing control. There were days when I would rather sit still just so I wouldn't have to show people that I couldn't see from my right eye. The days when my memory would get so mixed up, I have had to accustom myself to writing things down. The excruciating seven years of lumbar punctures that had me thinking, if this is what it meant to move forward in medicine, somebody, somewhere must be slacking off their research. Grief enveloped me when my first, real four year relationship ended because the condition was too difficult for him. Talk about transference.
Holding the pieces together and trying to put up a strong front often meant more pieces falling apart and grief being a full time companion. Grief lingered through the betrayals of friends who stayed to gain for their benefit and left when the benefits wore out. It was a much needed wake up call I do not wish on anyone but hope that each of us will learn, it is true, the best of friends will stay when the rest of the world walks out. Grief was a constant bystander in so many situations when I've tried to explain my medical condition and was instead greeted with, "it's your brain, so you must be crazy."
Even as I prayed for a non-eventful VP Shunt surgery, grief held my hand ever so tightly when I thought about how monstrous I must look and how I wished I hadn't taken so many little things in my life for granted. A very close friend once told me, that if I've had to deal with all this, there must be some grand reward tucked away somewhere. That God can't allow so much to happen and not bless me with anything good.
It took me awhile but I realised the reward wasn't tucked away anywhere. It was right in front of me. My blessings are outnumbered, in the few people that are living proof that there is such a thing as unconditional love. In the fact, that my writing journey is far from over and in the simple knowledge of knowing, there are more blessings to come.