Don’t let it keep you away

I lost a friend today, someone with whom I shared a unique relationship.

Her health caused her to rely heavily on others for taking care of her bodily needs.  I thought of it as being a normal circumstance for someone of poor health… but she asked to me one day,

“What can you do, when you don’t have yourself anymore?”

I’ve been asking myself that question ever since.

There are a lot of conflicting views on what it would mean to “have oneself”.  It could mean to be in control of all your faculties, or it could mean making your own decisions.  It could mean security and contentedness, or it could mean being isolated and not interdependent on others in any way.

There are a lot of views on how to “lose oneself” as well.  Usually we attribute that to forgetting who we are… sometimes in a good way, and sometimes in a bad way.  This makes me think of what it would mean to let someone else “have you”.  Or what it would mean to let God have you, until you don’t have yourself anymore (doesn’t mean that you aren’t yourself anymore, in fact you will be more like yourself).

As her health got worse, she began to sleep more and more, and she would sleep while I was there with her.  She was devastated by this, and would constantly apologize… and one time just before I left she grabbed by arm and said despairingly,

“I’m so sorry, don’t let it keep you away!”

She was so afraid that I wouldn’t come anymore, because her life circumstance… and I have certainly felt that way about my own circumstances.  That’s why it takes so long to get to know someone, because we won’t illuminate the fearful things, or the wounded things, or the things beyond our control, until we trust the other person to stay in spite of it. 

I saw her a few days ago, and I knew she was near the finish line.  She could barely open her eyes, so I wasn’t sure if she saw me there with her… until she reached out her arm towards me.  It was the only strength she had, so I took her hand and just sat with her, studying her face.  I thought about being in her position, lying there helpless, unable to communicate.  I thought about what I would want from the people around me, even though they’re helpless as well.  I was glad just to sit and hold her hand, both of us helpless, and I think she was glad too.

My friend taught me not to judge my worth by how much I control (myself or my surroundings), which is a difficult idea to sustain in our world…  she also taught me to accept and present myself as I am, and to not let anything keep me away when others do it too.

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