Monday, 5 August 2013

Are you parenting a child while going through an illness?
More power to you.  And all my prayers.  I can't imagine how difficult this must be.

Or are you an adult child who has grown up with an ill, older parent?
More power to you.  And all my prayers. I know how difficult this can be.

A tip, if you're the parent:
Don't celebrate every birthday as though it might be your last. Don't load every event with megatonnes of significance because there is a gun to your head (and by extension, your child's head).
It's exhausting.
It dilutes the happiness.
It's not actually all that exclusive, that gun: everyone has it. We forget that sometimes, in families with illness. Everyone is living with the gun. It's always loaded. So chill the fuck out. Relax, cut the cake, smile a lot, hug each other, forget the shadow.

I remember 24 birthdays (mine) when I clung to my Father - either literally or over the phone. My memory does that thing it does when I am sad or scared - it becomes super sharp, and I remember every tone of Happy Birthday darling I ever heard from him. The thing about sharp memories is that even the good ones wound you deeply. There's a reason people don't remember things so sharply. I remember smiles as I cut the cake, but also tears behind my mother's eyes. My mind remembers the smiles. My heart remembers the tears.

And while I completely agree that we need to live life 110%, I also know - really know - that there's a good reason why people seem designed to forget about that loaded gun, that sand slipping through the hourglass.
It's because we need to just be sometimes. We need to think we can live forever. We need to feel invincible a little. We need to make mistakes, waste a little time, take detours, wander. We need to remember a birthday for it's joy, not for being joyful-and-potentially-the-last. 

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