Posts Tagged pain
Marriage can be difficult even in it’s best moments. We are capable of incredible damage with just one slip of the tongue. The moment when your otherwise harmless organ turns into a razor-sharp blade with the ability to make a cut so deep that even the most skilled plastic surgeon would be unable to hide the scar left behind. I remember the moment when four little words brought me to my knees. Simple words, that suddenly had the power to emotionally cut me in half. “You don’t like me.”
It was, and to this very day is the worst thing my husband has ever said to me! What made it so horribly painful was the fact that he actually believed what he had said. The man who had been my best friend through every single event in my life for over thirty years was standing before me believing that I no longer liked him.
I know what your thinking. Oh big damn deal some of you have heard name calling, fuck yous, I hate you, I cheated on you, and a lot of other horrible things that on the surface seem like much worse things to say. I get all of that, but the very idea that I had somehow given my husband even the slightest notion that I didn’t like him was deeply painful to me. It had never even crossed my mind that this thought would be something anyone could convince him of, under any circumstance, least of all me.
Somewhere along the way something I had said, or done had cut him so deeply that he harbored this thought. My mind was spinning. How could he believe something so awful? Why didn’t he say something until that moment? God, how long has he been thinking this way? Most importantly how could I have not picked up on something so big between us? In my mind I guess I felt exempt from this kind of miscommunication between us. It was a huge wake up call. A reminder that I had been complacent. That I had taken him for granted,assuming that I knew how he felt, and that he knew how I felt.
Relationships are not self-sustaining states of being. They are ever-changing, living organisms that require you to be present. They need attention, and maintenance to survive. If we are really smart about our relationships we will do way better than just trying to survive. We will put in the wiser goal of thriving. 😉
My eyes search for you.
I see your form, and I search for your light.
My eyes watch so closely,
that I can actually see the moments when your inner
light peeks out through your body.
Your light is like the light of the sun as it leaves the day.
A light that that once burned with such intensity that
my eyes never had to search to see it’s existence.
The light of a sunset leaves with the promise
of returning tomorrow .
My eyes search for your light,
I keep searching for it’s promise that you will
return again tomorrow.
There are some events in life that have the ability to mess with our minds in such a monumental way that we simply refuse to admit them. We cannot admit them to our own selves, and certainly not to others. This week has been complete agony for my husband in particular. My husband is emotionally the strongest person I’ve ever known. This week Hospice requested a meeting with our family regarding our loved one’s continual decline.
As a family we have fought by his side for almost four years. It has become painfully clear over the last six months that he is losing his battle to live. We have managed to make sure that at least twice a day there is a family member by his side each day. Our love for him is immense. He is a true warrior. He has battled circumstances that most people would have been unable to survive. He took the worst circumstances of his life, and turned them into cherished moments that may not have occurred between us all under different circumstances.
The beauty of these moments are bitter-sweet because they have been so precious that it makes the idea of losing the chance to have more of them unbearable. The thing that we have been unable to admit is that the moments have dwindled to far, and few in between. Prior to our loved one’s accident he had made the decision to have a living will made. He was very clear about his wishes to not have his life prolonged after a certain point.
Even though we want to respect those wishes (and we will) we find the idea of medicating him for comfort purposes to be an excruciatingly difficult thing to do because there are still those most precious moments where he glimmers through reminding us that he is still here in spite of all his many ailments. He is connected to a feeding tube, but we have reached the point where his body is losing weight. This signifies that his body is no longer accepting the full benefits of nutrition. A prominent sign that he is leaving us.
He is still conscious, his organs are still functioning, he still jokes with us on rare occasions. Even though he is beginning to not know who we are at times it still feels like we are stealing his life. I cannot tell you how devastatingly painful this is for us all especially his son. We all agree that we would want someone to set us free from a condition that has no chance of recovery in the most gentle way possible, but at this moment we are unable to bring ourselves to actually turn off his feeding tube.
We have agreed to more medication to alleviate his other physical discomforts. We are all painfully aware that the very same medications will bring us to the moment where aspiration will become a possibility, forcing us to make the decision to remove the feeding tube. These are the things we can’t admit…
I’ve refrained from discussing something I’ve been dealing with for a few years now… and I really haven’t a damn clue why. Its not like you you guys deal with me every day (you’re welcome), I can spare a blog post to bitch about an issue I have, right? I have a doctor’s appointment this morning and this will be with someone new. Everyone I have been accustomed to dealing with has left to pursue other specialties so now after four and half years, I have to start all this shit from scratch.
Ok, so four and half years ago I went to see my doctor about some hot spots and pain I was getting in my legs after walking a few miles. My doc took some blood tests and I actually had the arteries in my legs scanned. Considering my mom died of “clots,” they didn’t mess around. My blood test came back with elevated cholesterol, but thankfully legs all clear. I was given meds and told to follow up in a few weeks.
At the follow up, I had another blood test, but I also handed over a log of every damn thing I put in my mouth from my last appointment and asked “ok, what do I need to change?” I was told they found no problem with my diet (even with the copious amounts of coffee – yes, decaf… even I play pretend).
It was frustrating, but I had to face the fact that maybe it was time to eliminate the one real vice I still had… smoking. We talked about Chantix, they wrote me a prescription and I got started with the standard three month supply.
I didn’t want to quit. I enjoyed smoking. I could still happily sit in the midst of a pack of smokers, as long as it was outside. I hated that shit on me even when I did smoke. But considering smoking over infinite prescription medications, I just faced the fact it was time to end it. My kid was also very vocal about how much they hated my smoking too. I weened myself off smoking and the meds in a month and half.
The 2nd blood test showed that the cholesterol meds they put me on were successful in bringing down the cholesterol, but it spiked my triglycerides times three. The medication was quickly ceased and I was to start taking fish oil instead.
Over the few months after quitting, I probably slapped on about 10 pounds, but that didn’t bother me. I expected worse and knew I’d eventually knock it back off. I ran most of a 5k my company sponsored us to go on with Spawn right with me. I say “most” because we kept having to stop and wait for the rest of our group. We had a blast.
Then I got tired.
I got the kind of tired where I slept 15 hours and could still sleep another 10 on waking. I had no energy, my brain was in a fog and I had trouble focusing. My doc upped the dosage on my anti-depressants. I didn’t feel depressed though… not the usual self-deprecating apathy that usually marks an onset of depression for me anyway.
The pain got worse.. and it spread.
The second 5k, a few months later than the first, I had to sit down and rest over half a dozen times and I couldn’t run at all. My body felt like it was on fire, I couldn’t catch my breath, everything ached. All the people I used to have to wait on, were waiting on me when I finally finished.
The pain in my legs started to get even worse. It wasn’t just hot spots anymore, it felt like nerves, joints, and slowly… muscles. My back started to feel like it would snap in two. I had to strain just to lift my feet. Try to imagine wearing pants made of thick silicone, at least 4 inches thick, nice and heavy… then walk. Walking across my very small house seemed like a huge feat almost beyond my grasp. I didn’t want to scare my kid, but I sure felt like soon I would simply not be able to make it. The weight of course started sliding on. I usually did 5-6 miles a night. Now I just couldn’t do anything.
My next blood test indicated a flux in my thyroid. I was prescribed the smallest dosage to start. It actually seemed to help.. just a bit. It didn’t eliminate anything, but the volume was turned down some.
More doc visits, the thyroid meds are lowered as my blood indicates it is working “too well.” I’m a bit upset by this considering its the only thing that has seemed to help and I feel like they are taking it away.
My cholesterol is still elevated and I’m asked how I take the fish oil. I explain that I will take an entire handful if I’m sitting down to a burger, but if the fat in my meal is an avocado I don’t take it at all. My doc nods, this is fine to them. My hands and feet are now often swollen and numb, I’m constantly having to shake feeling back into them.
The third and my final participation in a 5k happens a few months after the last one… one in spring, one in summer, and now this in fall. By the time I was a third of way through it, every participant had long gone home. I gave up upset and frustrated with my own body. I wanted to scream.
My doc took a job at a cardiac facility, so now I have to talk to the backup whose addiction to the prescription pad is terrifying. Who gives a refill on a z-pack for fuck’s sake? I usually only deal with them when I know I have a sinus infection and my regular isn’t available.
I’m having to explain all this new shit and the old shit, that seems to be going wrong and I’m trying to explain how serious it is for me considering how much it simply feels like I’m deteriorating. I get dubious looks from the nurse and scrips for pain meds that only seem to make my stomach even more acidic than it has ever been while barely touching the pain. I add pepcid to the list of shit I take a day. Yeah, we’re now up to four pill types now.
I do some research on my own. I try a multitude of different vitamins and minerals and/or combinations. Nothing really seems to make any significant difference. The amount of water retention I end up having to deal with is obscene, water pills only seem to help a little but at this point I will take it.
The backup doc refers me to a rheumatologist… and then left too. The rheumatologist does not think what I have is arthritis. I told them I agreed. At this point I’m thinking… over four years and no one has been able to help figure out what the fuck is wrong with me… is it because they don’t give a shit and care about their quotas more… or I’m just not severe enough to bother? I’m tired of paying fucking co-pays for incompetence, indifference or both.
My masseuse friend managed to unwind so many knots of muscles I had snarled from having to work 10 times as hard to do a 10th as much as I used to, I could not be more grateful. If I could have jumped around, I would have. Between my chiropractor and friend, I have finally tapped into a little more range of motion.
I am middle aged and I move worse than most people I have seen with walkers in their 80’s. It may not kill me anytime soon, but it lowers my quality of life enough to think death would be a great fucking vacation.
Out of curiosity, I started googling various combinations of what I’d been dealing with… cholesterol, weight, exhaustion,pain,water retention,depression, etc… all these seemingly unrelated items and systems that seemed to be on a downward spiral of failure… 98% of the results I got… thyroid. Yes, there was cancer here and there as well, but mostly thyroid. Did you know symptoms can manifest or worsen when you quite smoking? I didn’t.
How much smarter would a doctor look if he just fucking googled sometimes?
Do I have a family history of thyroid problems? um, just my mother, aunt, one uncle, a grandmother, a great-grandmother… I’m sure if the last uncle lived long enough, he probably would have had it too.
I called the office I go to, explained my irritation and how I was not putting up with another 4 years of this shit. They had two new doctors on staff to replace the ones who left, one who specialized with the endocrine system. I had to take a blood test, again, and get a physical, again. This time, I weened myself off all medications.. no synthroid, not the 4 ibuprofen I’ve been taking daily, the 2 pepcid, the anti-depressants, all of it gone.
Today I will find out the results. I demanded they do a full thyroid panel. Apparently, they don’t do a T3 test without written orders from a doctor but hopefully 2 out of 3 might present a bigger picture. I am not optimistic this one will give any more of a shit than the last one, but I’m also at the point that I don’t really care if I get really ugly either.
In 2010, I took Spawn trick-or-treating in a gorilla suit until they begged me to stop from exhaustion. That is who I am. Not this half mummified walking dead piece of shit I have become. Unfortunately, there seems to be little to nothing I can do on my own to regain my old self. I have to rely on the half-assed expertise of the disinterested out to meet their quota.
Have you guys ever dealt with something like this? If so, what did you do? Are you still dealing with it? How do you continue to function?
Today would have been grand’s 92nd birthday.
My kid, my mom, and my grand are all exactly four months apart birthday-wise, all on the same day. I find patterns fascinating, if you cannot tell.
I’ve spent a great deal of time trashing grand on some level almost every time I’ve referred to them. It’s warranted, but there were good points too. In a great many ways, grand was quite the tragic character. To them, love was a nonrenewable, fixed resource. In order to make room for something new, you had to take away from what was. With that kind of perspective, I guess its no wonder they withheld so much love and affection from the world if they were under the impression it would run out.
From what I gather from their siblings, grand was always a “glass is half-empty” type. I don’t remember them ever taking the initiative to be optimistic, but somehow, deep down I know they always seemed to maintain some element of hope in spite of everything.
Grand loved telling stories… of their past mostly. Over and over and over…and over. However, I had to come to learn through experience that any story in which grand was the martyr or victim was 99.9% complete horseshit. I tried to solidify the ones that were more positive, shift+del anything else.
Grand was tough as nails though. Grand lost their spouse and one of their parents within a month of one another, the wake for the spouse was held right before a snow storm in which they became trapped in their home with various well-wishers for a few days and somehow managed to keep things organized and comfortable.
Grand’s spouse had just started a fairly new business that was just breaking ground before they died, one with which my grand had 0 experience. They learned the business and took it over for the next 20+ years, closing shop only when they decided to retire. As the times changed, I watched as they, who hated technology, embraced their very first computer, of which I was not even allowed to look at cross-eyed lest it disintegrate under my very gaze. Grand was hesitant with it, but never once admitted defeat.
Grand navigated a lot on the barter system and understood exactly how to claim it on a tax return. They never danced in the grey area of the law and would snatch a knot in anyone who tried. Grand also took over ten years before they would ever increase the charges to their clientele, and fought it voraciously until they simply had no choice. Grand even took up a second job doing research to help supplement their income.
Grand taught me that there is a distinct difference between quality and quantity, and cheapest wasn’t always best, sometimes you get exactly what you pay for. Grand taught me that a good piece of furniture could last you a lifetime, so invest wisely. Also, don’t ever bring it home until its fully yours.
My entire childhood I had never had health insurance, but I was never lacking. I remember a great many conferences with orthodontists, doctors, etc held behind closed doors when it was decided I needed anything, like braces. As I got older and was given the opportunity to go abroad during the summer, grand never let on it was any kind of hardship to fund. Looking back, I’m fairly certain what grand pulled in was probably in the poverty level even then.
When it was time for me to go to college, grand again never let on there was any kind of strain. I found out in my second semester that they were using their retirement savings to fund my college education. I found out about and promptly filled out a PEL grant application, to which grand replied “I don’t take charity!” when I asked them to sign it. In turn, I promptly dropped my classes before my second year and joined the workforce instead.
Grand always seemed to have an additional mortgage or two on their home. I found out later that grand just couldn’t seem to say no when their kid’s asked for large sums of money. This pissed me off on more than occasion, especially considering one in particular hit up their retired parent living on social security for over 20k and then failed to make payments. I wanted to toss them off a cliff, but only if grand had life insurance on the bastard before I did… I could make it look like an accident.
The other side of that coin is that grand was probably suffering from dementia even before I was born. Children who had long paid their debts back to grand… this point would be forgotten. When that happened, they were generally ostracized and cussed out for being such ingrates and not paying back their debts (even when they did). I truly do not believe grand could retain the memory of one debt to the next. Their memories were getting chopped up and slowing ebbed away.
Grand’s spouse had a heart condition. They had not been given long to live when it was found and they decided not to tell their children, but they survived another thirteen years. Just before they died, my mom and her parent had a fight. My mom was a 17 year old kid at the time, and she was being exactly what a teenager does best… a pain in the ass. Spouse had a bad heart attack and passed away not long after. Thirty years later, my mom died with the still deep guilt of feeling like she killed the parent to whom she was closest. And grand… and grand made sure she was buried in the guilt, and blamed her too.
I came along a couple years later and I’m pretty sure I was taken away from my mom by grand as a punishment. Grand used an old diary of my mom’s as evidence of her being an unfit mother, enlisting my uncle to assist them. Grand’s spouse was a revered member of the community and had friendships with lawyers… and judges. My mom, still being a kid herself, just didn’t have a leg to stand on. The only time I would hear grand start to speak nicely of my mom would be about a year after she died. I’d never been so enraged, and made grand cry. I refused to listen to grand coo about my mom, while using the tragedy to yet again write themselves a martyr. I’m not sure if it was thick skin or a strange period of clarity but I made grand cry a lot that year. I call it penance.
On a nicer side, grand is the reason I love road trips and why I can still navigate an atlas with ease. I tend to enjoy the journey more than the destination and this is in no small part attributed to grand’s allowances to my experimental navigational style. I was addicted to small roads that led off the main highway, and grand very much enjoyed this too. Looking back, I was not very old when I was given almost full control in deciding the route to our destination… perhaps even earlier than ten. These days, I find myself often instructing my kid on how to read mile markers, how to tell what direction a road heads based on the number, how to determine north from west, even at night.
Because of grand, I have had chicken soup in the Capital building and visited the Smithsonian. I met Strom Thurmond’s very young and spandexed wife (seriously, she looked like she was an extra on Xanadu). I’ve had a sip from the Fountain of Youth (fat lot of good that did), seen Native American rain dances, met the Amish, and a slew of other adventures both big and small.
Grand and I got one last great adventure when I migrated back from the west and I got to show them a gas station with a full casino in it in Reno, the best shoreline drive on highway 1 from San Francisco, the west coast, sand dollars that didn’t come from a gift shop, a petrified forest, real amounts of snow, sleeping in rest areas, buffalo, the majesty of the Redwoods, Mount Rushmore, taking a piss in the forest and having your picture taken by your pain in the ass grandchild while you’re doing it.
They loved every stinking minute of it. Whenever grand would have their negative moments, I would find the nearest vineyard and let them imbibe a glass or two of the alcoholic persuasion. Grand was at least a happy drunk. Considering I made them check their sugar often and regulated the food while together, grand was doing fine for a change. I remember on more than one occasion telling grand “look, you’re bitching is wearing on my nerves so either you get drunk or I do.”
I guess this is the point where I need to stop and explain something. Grand has always treated me like a small adult. I do the same thing with my kid. The difference though is grand was befuddled with me once I started having strong opinions, mostly especially when they didn’t agree with theirs 100%. The older I got, the more they lost interest or maybe they just didn’t know how to talk to me anymore. However, in spite of all of that, I was probably closer to grand than anyone else had ever been. I understood grand on some level, but there was a lot of the rest of it I just didn’t put up with and I didn’t hold back.
My grand was all about an Emily Post level of etiquette, ladies acting like ladies, gentlemen acting like gentlemen, and I was all about dying my hair purple and getting a new set of combat boots. Considering grand was of the generation that deemed “your mommy wears combat boots” as the ultimate of insults (no clue why), I must have seemed rather wild. We were such vast oceans of contrast, but still… as long as we didn’t have to live under the same roof (read: one owned by grand, they were a much better house guest), we could get along pretty well.
I was the Sex Pistols to their Andrews Sisters. It was an odd mix.
I suspect on some level though, grand envied my devil may care attitude. To this day, I have people who I have known from preschool on to current co-workers and bosses that are connected to me in various social media. They could easily sit down and trade notes about me with one another and what they would find… is that I’m pretty much the same across all areas. Outwardly, I may change faster than a speed dating session, but personality-wise, I refuse to mask who I am with different people. Grand had a million faces for as many people. That had to be exhausting. They even had one for each of their kids. I suspect I’m the only one who got to see the feisty, funny, adventuresome person of whimsy they could be.
I got to see all the negative shit too and we had more than one falling out that caused us to go radio silent for months, but I was their rock, their go to. I didn’t mind that. When grand had surgery, I was where they came when they were healing. When they were lonely, I was one of their first calls.
About a year or so after our one last hurrah, TAIWASAPD (The Devil Aunt) kind of rushed grand into an assisted living facility where they were held for the next few years. From what I understand, the state could have claimed anything grand owned had they been moved to a state facility before then…. because that’s important? I offered to take grand on the condition the aunt could have all of grand’s shit and leave us alone, but that didn’t fly. I was outvoted by the remaining kids, who up until this couldn’t have given a shit less. I am pretty sure they suspected I was after grand’s vast riches…yeah, I can barely get that line out without snorting.
After grand went into this place, I never saw a person deteriorate so fast. It isn’t the person that is the problem, these places suck the very spirit out of the people forced to be there. When you have someone who is suffering from dementia, the last thing you do is put them somewhere that is unfamiliar and with a bunch of strangers. It killed me to watch as within a year grand packed on a ton of weight and was borderline delusional. In two, grand was in a diaper and had to use a walker to get around. Grand sat near the front door, waiting for someone they were convinced was coming to take them home. Every. Fucking. Day.
On the rare times I could make the drive up there to visit (it was several hours away and I had a rapidly dying vehicle), I spent hours while grand tried again and again to figure out who I was. I never failed to get them back every time, but it only lasted a little while, every time shorter than the last. I was told on more than one occasion by the director that even though said aunt lived less than five minutes away, I was the first time they’d seen anyone spend any real amount of time with grand.
When grand finally could not move at all on their own, TAIWASAPD moved them to a state facility. Grand’s skin came to look like a giant full-body blister. Every time they turned grand, they screamed from the pain of the bed sores covering their back and bottom. Grand was straw-fed these stupid shakes because they could no longer chew. It would be the last time I would see grand. I spent a long time taking a soft cloth and washing grand. I cleaned as much of their body as I could without causing pain, I washed their hair, and I brushed their teeth. I told them stories they had told me growing up. I started with the oldest first and working my way forward.
I reminded grand of the time when they and their sister had to ride in the rumble seat of their parents’ car out in the cold whilst their little brother and baby sister got to stay inside. The little brother of course was staring at the both of them and pulling faces, asserting his dominance being able to ride where it was warm. Grand is focusing on the words. I can tell when I look that they see pictures to this in their mind.
I remind grand that when their father was being a disciplinarian, he would say “I’m going to stomp you through the floor and leave a greasy spot” with a smile on his face because he thought this was terribly funny. Grand is smiling
I remind grand about how their mom was such a perfectionist, she would redo all the bedding when the kids attempted to make up their beds. Grand’s mom was the old school type who was dressed to the 9’s by the time grand’s father came home. Grand is kind of frowning slightly.
I remind grand of the time when the house they were renting when the kids were little caught fire and they didn’t have a phone, so grand took off barefoot in the middle of the night and leap over a six foot ditch to reach the neighboring house to call the fire department, starting a bucket brigade not too long after. I tell grand what a badass their kids thought they were when they did that. Grand’s eyes finally become more clear and they are trying to focus on me. Grand doesn’t care for this memory, but my assertion of being a badass garners interest. That’s not one of grand’s memories, it was what grand’s children have told me over the years.
I remind grand of playing the violin while their spouse played the piano and how they sang together at church in their hometown. I remind grand of the day when their bow fell apart because the humidity in the church that day was especially destructive and grand was rendered unable to play.
I remind them of making the first birthday cake their spouse ever received their entire life after they were married. I remind grand of contacting their mother-in-law and chewing their ass out for never having provided a birthday cake to their own child when they demanded one themselves. I remind grand of the tradition they held after that of always having for their spouse everything they provided for their kids each holiday since they’d been left out of Easter baskets as well. I hear a faint chuckle.
I remind grand of the crazy woman they had to stay with before moving to a permanent residence who woke up them up in the middle of the night convinced she was having a heart attack and demanded grand had to stab her heart pills with a stick pin before she could take them, only to cause grand to stab their fingers a dozen times before the woman released the most epic belch. I hear grand snort.
I remind grand of them having to tie their youngest son in a harness that was inside out and backwards and safety-pinned, staked in the yard while they did chores because he liked to escape more effectively than Houdini at the age of three, and go play in the six lane highway. Grand is smiling.
I remind grand about the person they dated in high school and about their 50th high school reunion (which I actually attended) and how they had not lost a single person then. I ask if grand would consider dating that person again. I get a look that says “are you freaking kidding me?”
I remind grand about the beach we went to every year until I was in high school. I remind them of cocoa and sunrises on cold mornings curled up on folding chairs. I remind grand of friends through the years we only knew there, some long passed, and the funny stories that went with them.
I remind grand of some of our road trips. I talk about the things we had seen and the places we’ve gone. I ask grand if they want me to sneak them in a margarita, or just to skip straight to the bottle and do some shots. Grand is giggling at this point.
Grand looks at me with full recognition and says softly, “hey sweetie, you’re here!,” beaming. We stare silently at one another for a few moments, just smiling and acknowledging this small hard won reunion, but its worn them out and grand soon dozes off.
Grand passed away not long after.
I am currently exhausted from a busy yesterday, but something that happened yesterday I just cannot seem to get out of my mind.
I think I’m a pretty cynical person. I will generally expect the worst in most people, even if I’m secretly hoping for the best. One of these has been in the case of people who ask for money. They could be on the side of the road with signs in their hands or they approach you, out of the blue, with a story to tell. I generally give nothing… ever.
Think I’m an asshole all you want, but I’m still of the thought process that charity begins at home. I have a friend who makes significantly less than I do, they are the working welfare recipient… that kind of bad… and I make a point of taking their family out to dinner every so often, especially to places they would not be able to go otherwise. It gives the parent a break, I enjoy their company and their kids get to experience something different. If my kid gets an Advents calendar for Christmas, I drag their kids to get one too. If my kid needs something like headphones, I will make a mental note as to whether theirs could use them too.
If they have some deep wish that is outside of the realm of their parent, I do what I can to help… without overtaking it. If I can fix it so their parent looks the hero, or help direct the parent to a lower cost option, I opt for that. I don’t do it with being charitable as a goal, its just to expect them to run at my pace and expense level is unfair, but missing out on something because of it, even more so.
With that said, I was running errands yesterday when I was suddenly approached by a woman who was trying her best to tell me her dilemma, but the only things I could understand were “hospital”, “gas”, “I have nothing”, and “even a dollar.” I got the jist, she wanted money. This is usually when my heart turns to stone and I, truthfully, explain I have no cash… sorry. I had a whopping $2.00 in my wallet yesterday. If I have cash, I spend it, so I don’t care to carry it unless its necessary.
But I looked at her. There was nothing particularly striking about her and I really couldn’t tell you for sure much, if anything, about her appearance.
It was her eyes.
Her eyes were telling me that asking this of me was killing her and she hated it. Her eyes were full of pain, pride, obstinance and desperation. Lots of desperation.
I knew that look.
There was a time in my own past when I had that look. My kid’s first Christmas I was unemployed and almost homeless. They got two dollar store toys that year, neither of which provided by me. I swallowed a LOT of pride that year. I applied for any slim chance of assistance I could find, all the while applying for jobs anywhere I could. It would be another year before we happen to be gifted a 10 inch tree at a company gift exchange. If there is a deadly sin I’m especially guilty of, it would definitely be pride and I resent that era of my life when I had to swallow ALL of it to survive.
I have been approached before, of course. They have all been the heartstring pulling type of stories that generally lure a person in, but that’s the problem. They all sound so fucking rehearsed. Every time I have ever been approached for money, what they said sounded so much like a worn out records, scratches and all. If you have ever heard a customer service person say something about “this call may be recorded…” you know what I’m talking about. They have been saying it so long, it has long lost any emotional connection it might have ever contained. It always made me wonder if any of them were ever grounded in truth and it was just fruitlessness that caused the monotonous sound… but… I certainly never bothered to feel any regret over it.
I handed her the little money I had without another word. She ran out with a looking on her face like she’d been sucking lemons, the kind of face you make when you’re trying not to break down while there was still stuff to do. I might have still been had, I don’t know. For the first time though, I didn’t care.