What a year this has been!
If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s to fucking surrender. To let go of my need to control everything, because 2019 made me realize that I am not in control of shit. At least not in the grand scheme of things. I can control my actions, and I can shape the meaning of my experiences. But that’s about it.
As some of you may know, my dad was involved in a serious car accident in October, a few days before his 63rd birthday. We still aren’t sure exactly what is going on with him, but essentially he passed out while driving and totaled his car. It was scary AF.
I was very concerned and involved for the first weeks following his accident, and then I think I slipped into a bit of a denial phase. I was in denial that my healthy, resilient father, who was always a phone call away and who could help me with just about anything, was not as healthy as he once was. I was in denial that, as a daughter, it was time for me to step up and take on a bit of a caregiver role.
In retrospect, I also think I felt resentment. Not towards my dad, but towards the situation. It just felt so unfair, that my dad was no longer the picture of health that I knew him as. I was mad. Angry at the loss. And so I withdrew a little bit. I think because it was just too hard to face. Especially when I was starting a new job and adjusting to that change, and going through a fair bit of growing pains myself.
But Christmas eve, my dad had two of these “episodes” where he passes out at his place, and so my brother and I decided to take him to the emergency. It was fucking horrible, to see my dad become unresponsive, so vulnerable and helpless. My dad, who is supposed to support me, was now the one in need of support. The weight of that responsibility just slammed me, like a ton of bricks on my shoulders. But I had to keep it together. I, the medical professional of the family, the one that people look to for healthcare advice, had to keep my shit together. I couldn’t falter now. This is when my family needed me the most. So I carried on with my brave face over the next few days, advocating for my father, explaining complex medical jargon to my family and ensuring that my dad receive the best care.
But a week later, I just can’t pretend that I am unaffected by this. Because I am. This shit is fucking hard.
Yesterday I went for a walk and I was listening to Brené Brown’s “Rising Strong” book. She was talking about heartbreak and grief. And in that moment, I recognized that what I was going through was exactly that. My heart is broken because my dad as I knew him is no more. I am scared because I have a dependent now, someone who needs me, like I’ve never been needed before. I am grieving the loss of my role as a daughter to my father, as I transition into a new relationship with my dad.
Don’t get me wrong, he is still my dad, and I will always need him and rely on him. But things have changed. And I am grieving that.
I cried on the phone with my brother as I explained my realization. And again with my mom.
Crying is good though. For me, it means I am releasing emotions. I am surrendering to what is. I am letting go of my expectations and making room for what is (yes I know that this is a recurrent theme in my blogs. But that’s why I say 2019 has taught me to s u r r e n d e r 🙌🙌).
And as I detach from my expectations, I can begin to feel genuine gratitude for what is.
Despite how difficult the last weeks have been, and especially the last few days, I still find a way to be grateful for many things.
I am grateful that my dad is alive, and mostly well. I am grateful for the wonderful care he received, especially over the holidays, when I am sure the healthcare providers would have preferred to be with their own family. I am grateful for my dad’s partner, who loves him dearly and cares for him day in and day out. I am grateful for my brother, because we support each other as we witness our Dad get older and less healthy. I am thankful for my own health, my medical background and my strength – because navigating our healthcare system can be very difficult, and frankly you almost need a medical professional in your family to help advocate for a loved one.
I am grateful for the reminders and lessons brought forward by this experience – life is fragile, health is a privilege and a gift, and staying healthy requires efforts, and maybe a bit of luck. We are all responsible to take care of ourselves first, for we can’t take care of others when we aren’t well. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
And finally I am grateful for this year.
2019, you fucking chewed me up. And a year ago I probably could not have imagined going through what I have gone through this year, and somehow still find a way to be grateful and happy.
And yet here I stand.
2019, you chewed me up, you spat me out, yet you’ve shown me my strength, my courage and my gifts.
And for that, I am grateful.