I have been ill since my son's high school orientation night, when I could feel myself coming down with it. Symptoms: cough, sinus stuff, lost voice and blocked breathing passages. I'm not sure what you would call this - sinus infection, flu, cold? Not good symptoms to be experiencing with that extrtemely scary movie "Contagion" recently coming out.
Today, I feel the symptoms starting to lift but still feel weak and not myself. Yesterday I went to JC Penney with my son who asked me to go with him to pick out some clothes. With his work earnings he purchased a vest, shirt and dress slacks to wear for his Senior photo. He had researched clothing costs and sales online and deemed Penney's the place to shop. That in and of iitself makes me so proud but also almost wanting to weep (because of the necessity to count every penny...). Anyway, while at the store I couldn't stand but there weren't any chairs to sit down on. Nor might I add, any sales people around to answer questions or help...
Being down and out 12 days has put some perspective on things. I am more aware of the vulnerablilty connected to our health. And how it is more difficult to live on one's own. Being the sole adult in a household and sick is tough no doubt about it.
I spent some early nights in bed unable to sleep because of the congestion and coughing and just wishing I could sleep the next six months away. Being sick saps your physical and emotional strength. Then I'd feel guilty because I had no desire or ability to go to a couple job leads I'd heard about. My son asked me if I was going to apply. Given that I couldn't even talk, I didn't think it would make a good starting impression. Yet despite being legitimately down and out, I still found myself striving toward something not possible. Here of all times, I need to cut myself some slack and allow myself to be sick then heal.
Somehow over the years of hearing people tell me I can't give up and I have to remain strong and yes, accomplish the work of more that one on my own it has morphed into having unreasonable expectaitons for myself. Although, in my view, society holds unrealistic expectations for widows in general.
When we live with someone who is ill, we tell them to rest up, take it easy, take care. We pick up the slack and try to pamper with tea and tissues. I am just doing the dishes which I've left in the sink the past few days, not caring, not being able to stand up anyway.
I have come to believe through the years that all those platitudes that people say to bolster us up are full of air. The crap about being stronger because you've experienced hardship. Or that everyone can keep it up and keep on going. The crap about never ever giving up. Do you know what? I think people do peeter out. That sometimes we give up out of pure exhaustion and hopelessness. And what of it? Is it really so bad to hang it up and step out of the rat race of life for a moment. To take a break from the madness?
In widowhood, we're advised to pick ourselves back up and keep on trudging to make meaningful lives for ourselves. Of course, we need to do that. But I think at the same time, there are times when it is ok to step back and out; to retreat and instead of plodding forward tread instead of moving forward. Or maybe even take a step back. Why do we always have to be moving forward and improve? Getting sick I realize that there are life moments when it may be necessary to hunker down and just be. To maintain status quo may be a feat in itself.