“Grandma, when will you be better?”
It is 5:00 on a school morning, and I am sitting at my granddaughter’s bedside nursing her through a sore tummy.
“Not sure, Honey.”
“Oh,” she shrugs. She is four and has never known me any other way.
Later, we snuggle up and watch Moana.
“You are just like the Grandma in the movie,” she tells me.
“Because I have white hair?”
“Yes, and …..” it is at the part where Moana’s dancing Grandmother says she’s the village crazy lady…” that too. Will you come back as a stingray when you die?”
“More likely a bird,” I tell her.
I love that while she is not afraid to ask questions, she is also accepting of the answers.
“I miss you,” my mother tells me every time she talks to me.
“It’s like we’ve lost our Mom,” my daughters remind me.
I know my husband pines for the old me, too. Hell, I am in agreement with them all, but dwelling on the loss is counterproductive to healing.
ME/CFS is a bit like having the flu, only those days where you begin to feel better are not harbingers of a return to normalcy, they are tricksters, stirring up false hope and an overuse of energy. A crash is certain to follow.
Apart from the daily physical challenges, I taunt myself with a barrage of ‘shoulds’ illiciting emotional turmoil.
I need to borrow a page from my granddaughter’s life book: to know that I (Grandma) am sick and have limitations, and love me anyway. She has no expectations for me to be any other way than how I am. Imagine being that emotionally mature, or should I say, innocent.
Acceptance says: this is my life, this is who I am. Wisdom reminds me that life is seldom static, so chances are that things will change again. Openness will help me transition from one stage of life into another. It also keeps possibility alive.
Without acceptance, I live in a constant state of never being enough. I think I should do more for my children, be a better daughter, push myself for my husband’s sake, accomplish more. In other words, I am constantly facing a mountain of insurmountable goals.
Acceptance would gift me with the power of no: the ability to recognize what I am and am not capable of, and the courage to set realistic boundaries. Acceptance seeks to understand without judgment. It is a shift in perspective.
Imagine being able to find joy in the moment, without the cloud of self-chastisement.
I believe acceptance can give me that.
“Grandma, I want to come sleepover at your house,” my granddaughter tells me as I leave.
I hug her and tell her: “Soon”, and marvel that she wants to spend time with a doddery old woman like me, and think:
If a four-year-old can accept me the way I am, then surely I can too.
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.