A few months ago a guy I don’t know very well, and frankly don’t want to, told me it must be real nice to have all this free time on my hands.
“It must be real nice to hang out all day when the rest of us are at work” he said with a stupid smirk on his face that I’ve imagined slapping off on more than one occasion.
Yeah, like being disabled is a vacation. Like there’s nothing more I want in life than to sit at home, in pain, living off of State funded financial aid that barely covers my phone bill, let alone a months worth of life’s necessities. Yes, you’re right Mr. Asshole, be jealous of me. I’m living the American dream.
Most days are spent at home in various degrees of pain and discomfort, while I navigate how to do common household chores with swollen hands. Making my bed shouldn’t be a two hour task, but it is. Cleaning my cats litter box used to take 5 minutes, now it’s more like 50, especially if I have to vacuum the area afterwards. On a good day however, you can find me on the couch cradling a hot cup of Irish Breakfast Tea, watching my latest Netflix addiction (currently One Tree Hill, I know its bad, blame my best friend).
I rarely get out of the house, and when I do it’s usually to go to a doctor’s appointment, or to pick up my prescriptions, or mail, sometimes munchies at the grocery store. It’s not often I do regular fun things like everyone else. Movies are few and far between. Dinners out? Only if someone else has offered to buy.
So, last night on one of those lovely rare occasions, I got to go out to a party. It was held at a beautiful home with fantastic interior decorating that could put an article of Home & Gardens to shame. I think in the next few months I’ll probably have fantasies about the master bathroom alone.
And at this party I had the pleasure of meeting another woman going through chemotherapy. Now, I understand that it’s not necessarily a good thing when you meet others that share your treatments, because that means you’re both sick, and that sucks. But I don’t often meet people with a similar level of illness. Sure, I belong to a few online support groups that have been wonderful to me so far. But it’s different when you’re talking to someone in person, sharing your experiences, face to face.
We didn’t share the same disease in this case. While I suffered from severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, this poor woman had Stage 3 Breast Cancer. What’s worse was that she had only been diagnosed just 5 months prior. It was heart breaking to hear of something so awful and aggressive happening to a woman that young, she was also in her early thirties. But what stayed with me was how happy and optimistic she was.
People often ask me how matter of fact and optimistic I can be about my disease. And as stated in an earlier post, I usually just show people what I want them to see. It doesn’t benefit anyone to see me upset, or angry, or lost. Those are my demons, and I face them alone.
But this woman didn’t seem to be playing Extreme Jenga. She was genuinely happy, and free, and enthusiastic about life. Introduced me to her husband whom she coined as the most wonderful man alive, and her amazing support system. I was shown pictures of her 5 beautiful children, all under the ages of 4. She spoke happily about what a wonderful life she leads, and what a great family she had, and how lucky she was.
I was floored. This woman was given five years to live and she was acting as if she had fifty. I asked her how she had such energy for life, how she negated the anger at not having much time left with the people she loved. Her answer was so simple, so honest.
“Love doesn’t come with a clock attached.”
It’s pretty ridiculous to be jealous of someone who’s illness is worse than mine. Even more than that idiot telling me I enjoy being disabled so I don’t have to work. And yet here I am, looking at the Green Eyed Monster in the face, wishing I knew what timeless love felt like. Wishing I felt the same freedom as this amazing woman with cancer has. Wishing I felt anything at all.