My friend hit the nail on the head! We were dialoguing, me through tear filled fear of the future, and her through gentleness and understanding. Never once in our long conversation did she judge, reproach or diagnose me as some have. She listened asking an occasional question or offering encouragement. In the midst of our conversation she said, “Sandra you’ve never liked the idea of any kind of illness and I think you’re fighting the aging process.” She’s right, I’ve never liked the idea of having any kind of serious illness; but then again who does? After much pondering, I hate to admit it, she’s right, on all accounts. I would like to chalk my less than stellar coping skills to dealing with a chronic disease diagnosis. I’d like to, but that wouldn’t be truth. That’s only one bucket laying inside a bigger bucket… the bucket of aging.
I don’t like the idea of being in the autumn of life heading towards winter. Life seems unfair at times. I see others (1st no-no …comparing) much older than I living life with very little limitations. I yearn for the health and vitality of my younger self (2nd no-no …coveting). Bottom-line, my mind feels young and I’m not ready for what I perceive as the “golden years”.
In the last 25 years, in one capacity or another, I’ve done life with the elderly. Sadly, the majority of them have little joy. Many live day-to-day in pain due to failing health. For some, simply getting to church on Sunday, grocery shopping, or getting to a doctor’s appointment is a major ordeal. Many are alone without family nearby to help. Some who have family, are still alone. Their family members either don’t care or are simply too busy to understand the emotional and physical needs of their elderly family members. I’ve come to understand why many older people’s homes have more dust than they used to and why their furniture looks like it hasn’t been moved in years. It’s because …. …. it hasn’t. To move the furniture or rearrange a room is like moving across the country. They can no longer lift, push and shove as they once did. Cleaning now requires 4 times the energy it once did. Mopping the floor or getting down to scrub the shower or tub…. forget it! Many have no-one they can call for help, or the funds with which to pay a stranger for household services. Making it through each day is their goal. Not the kind of life one envisions for their later years.
I’ve observed those who are thriving in their “golden years” and who exhibit joy, have a strong connection to their children or siblings; especially if they’re in regular contact and able to help. Those who have a community of friendships which function like family do equally as well.
I do believe my friend’s observation has validity. Along with fighting the aging process, I believe I’m also fighting acceptance of my disease. I don’t like the path I see before me! I don’t want to give-in. It hasn’t even been a year since receiving my diagnosis of CVID’s (Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disease) a rare disease for which there is no cure. These past 9 months have changed many things but the hardest outcome has been the break in friendships. “We’re still friends” however the relationship of doing life together, of being in touch, is diminished or non-existent. The old adage out of sight out of mind seems to apply.
What I’m discovering:
- One must fight for joy.
- Joy is about attitude much more than experience or circumstances.
- Faith is the root of hope.
- Fear, if you let it, will overshadow hope and destroy joy.
- Life is what you make of it – not what life makes of you.
- Learning to live in the moment is key.
- There’s an element of grief in every change which comes our way. Recognize and acknowledge grief. Process through it or run the risk of becoming emotionally stuck.
- Life is not meant to be lived alone. Even monks live in community.
- Gratitude chases away the blues.
- Acceptance doesn’t mean giving-in; it means adjusting.
- Peace is found in acceptance.
- Embracing life is an act of one’s will.
I’ve by no means arrived when it comes to embracing “Autumn”; I think I’m on the right path.
Here’s to learning to embrace whatever stage of life we find ourselves.
Thank you my dear friend for listening and helping me find my way again. Love you.
Until next time,