I haven’t written as many posts as usual lately as I’ve had to focus on helping my youngest daughter get ready for, and then recover from, her second surgery in five months.
This comes after seven years of struggle with three major medical issues which, at 13, means that she has spent more than half of her life in significant, frustrating, and relentless physical pain.
The thing that amazes me is that, despite the difficulties she has faced, my daughter has an incredible strength of spirit. Her ongoing discomfort has revealed a sense of dogged determination to keep up with activities she loves despite it, as well as a deep compassion for others.
When she hurts, she hasn’t shut down within herself, or struck out at others, like some kids might. She has reached out, instead, to animals, to people with disabilities, and especially to senior citizens, who are her greatest love.
In fact, just hours out of surgery a few weeks ago my daughter reminded me, from her druggy haze, that I hadn’t yet called a local retirement home to arrange for her to volunteer. When she sees an elder out and about over the course of our daily lives, her first instinct is to offer a hug.
That care and concern on her end carries an odd contradiction to the lack of compassion she often receives in some areas of her life, where, for example, the conversation at school might revolve more around her absence than the reason behind it.
Where a school nurse rolls her eyes and says, “You again?” and sends her back to class, instead of understanding that sometimes you just need a break from the hurt, even if it’s just a short rest on a plastic couch during the school day.
Over the years, I’ve fought my battles with school nurses and principals who operated not on the principle of “What can we do to help?” as much as “What? She’s out again?” Surgery was a last resort, and we’re hopeful as the days pass that it gets better.
Some people become hardened when faced with a chronic situation. But my daughter has been transformed. I’m very proud of her.
No, she isn’t always perfect. And like most parents there are times when I have to take a walk, or count to 10. But given what she’s been up against, and how she has responded, she’s pretty darn close.