Monday, July 25, 2011

Do I Miss the Sympathy?

Sometime in February, TBG surprised me by asking if I was prepared for the day when I was no longer the center of attention.

He didn't have evil intentions in asking it that way, though I can see how you could read it that way. He was merely speaking the truth. I was the center of attention whether I asked to be or not. I'd been shot and my friends and family needed to look at me and reassure themselves that I still existed in this world.

After that, there was a universal need to protect me. Some had an easier time than others in letting me fend for myself, but no one ever minded bringing me a snack or recharging my phone or handing me the flowery paper gift sack that held the stationary and pens.

It was nice for me to ask because people really wanted to help. When I didn't ask, they tried to find things to do on their own. Heidi reorganized my closet. The Ballerina and I got our nails done. Reggie walked up and down the aisles of Target. The list goes on and on. I was read to and fed and listened to with a look that told of intense concentration.

I'd come very close to not being there . We weren't missing any opportunities to share the love. We were very together, my SuziSitters and I.

I could retreat into the background as long as I didn't inhale too sharply or readjust my position or change the expression on my face. People were worried about me and their eyes were always on me and after a while it became commonplace when a pillow appeared behind my shifting back, or an eyebrow was raised in my direction as I took a deeper than usual breath.

I never felt smothered. I could always plead exhaustion and escape to my bed, pulling the softest blanket over my legs and leaving the real world behind. Oxycontin is wonderful for this. When the pain is severe, the medication goes right there and swallows it up. Totally and completely, the pain is replaced by a pleasant warmth and my mind no longer needed to concentrate on ignoring frightening sensations. I was at peace. I felt safe, because someone was always right there. No, it wasn't smothering, it was love.

If my spirits were low, I had only to wait til 4:30 in the afternoon. Dinner was delivered and there was small talk and a bit of the outside world came to visit. I worked on accepting help with grace, and I allowed myself to revel in the sympathy, the encouragement, the attention. As I was complimented, I stood up straighter and wobbled a little less. If a week had passed since my visitor had seen me, she invariably noticed my remarkable progress. It didn't matter that I noticed no changes. An outside observer had noticed them so they must be real.

So, Yes, I will miss the sympathy because it has helped me move forward but No I won't really at all because when it's gone I'll be closer to being me again. A little less snarky, a little more careful, but me all the same. I got here because of the sympathy, because of the love, because everyone was watching and I couldn't let them down. If I'm not limping, if I'm not grimacing, if I am carrying my own groceries in from the garage then I don't really need sympathy, do I?

In its absence I'll know that I am healed.


  1. You are showing signs of wisdom! I think it must be nice to be the center of attention once in a while, but constant attention is surely wearing to the body and soul. I watched the inane (but harmless) new show on ABC last night, called Same Name. The guy who was named David Hasselhoff (through no fault of his own, decided, after three days of celebrity experience, he really just wanted to go home to his wife and baby and be who he was before. Smart man!

  2. AB, I think what you are describing as sympathy most definitely is love. Everyone grows with love and you are almost done with that aspect of your journey and will be going down another path. I have no doubt those that were with you during this other period of your life will be there for you again. It may be in another capacity, but they will be with you nonetheless. You are truly blessed to have so many people care about you and that wanted to nurture you. That truly shows what a loving person you are. I always think we surround ourselves with people that are similar to who we are. So all the love you have been shown has reflected on the type of person you are.

    Sending hugs,

    Megan xxx

  3. Megan, that is the sweetest thing I've read...ever! Yes, Kenju, sometimes just being anonymous in the vegetable aisle is a good thing :)

  4. What a wonderful and healthy attitude.


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