This post is modified from Sunday’s journal entry, which was a pretty rough day this week… at first.
Bone pain woke me up at 3 am, has been cycling through being worse and abating since then. I had plans to do a lot of writing but can’t even make it down the stairs anymore.
So I’ve pretty much spent the day using the pillows on my bed to lean myself into the only comfortable position I can find.
The pain meds I have are either too weak but let me sleep or too strong and juice my mind.
I opted for sleep.
The last time I faded in from sleep my almost 9 year old niece knocked on my door.
“Come in.” We greeted each other.
I asked her what she needed, expecting that she wanted to charge my old iPhone so she could post a musical.ly video or Google something. She did.
“I also wanted to see how you are.” She’s so considerate, in a way that you can tell comes naturally for her.
As what her mother would call her third parent, I worry about this for her. I was in my 20s before I realized I could satisfy my need to be generous without it being at my own expense.
“You can want two things.” I smiled this at her, for my own benefit too.
I’ve struggled with where to draw the line in helping to care for these kids who call me Momo. I’ve had to learn not to jump to their every need since I’ve had cancer, and have had to enforce additional times and areas of quiet or solitude so I can heal.
At the same time I don’t ever want them to think they can’t come to me or think I’m rejecting them.
I watched her walk softly toward the door, respecting my circle of mute reflection. As she reached for the doorknob, she turned back.
“I’m sorry for your pain.” It was one of those moments when you’re so proud to have helped raise a perfect little human, but also wanted to shield them from the reality of the world.
I could see the concern in her face. I almost wanted to lie, in order to erase it. Instead I tried to laugh it off.
Humor is my knee jerk cover.
“Who told you I was in pain?” Her eyes danced gingerly over my posture and position, like a healer’s fingertips, assessing.
“I know how you feel.” She wasn’t saying she had been in similar pain. She was simply saying she could tell how I was feeling.
I thanked her and told her how sweet she is. She made arrangements to bring me dinner on her way back.
So that is my gratitude thought for today. These children, all of them, have had some kind of similar encounter during this period when I was sick. Not once have they complained about how my sickness has changed their lives.
For this I credit my sisters. Compassionate caregivers, great mothers.