Monday, 27 April 2009

Missing in action

Today I met someone I've known of for a long time, but had never been introduced to, and I had a rather odd experience. Before I was ill, we moved in somewhat similar circles, and so we know a lot of the same people. It was lovely to hear about all the old names - but I was shocked by how many had died. And several times my new friend made a comment like, 'Of course, she's nearly 80 now...', which shocked me almost as much as the news of the deaths.

My mother told me once that, when the Second World War ended, she somehow expected her friends who had been killed to come back - to get up off the floor at the end of the game - and it was a new grief to her to realise that they really had gone. I think this is what, unknowingly, I've been doing with my illness - thinking that, when I get well again, everything will go back to the way it was. But it won't. Already it has stolen nearly twelve years of my life. People have got old and died, people I really liked and never spent enough time with. They won't be coming back, even if one morning I wake up to a miraculous cure.

This is an extremely unsettling thought, and one with which I need to sit for a while.

1 comment:

Mary Sharpe said...

My, do I identify with this post!

I've tried to explain to people that I don't believe in death and I've never managed to explain what I mean in a way that they understand. But it's precisely what you describe here. I know people die and that when they die I won't see them again - yet there's a large part of me that can't make sense of this at all . . . that believes people I have known, loved, admired, will simply walk back in one day. If everything that is wrong gets 'put right' (war ended, illness overcome) things will also be 'put back' to where they were 'before'. I completely understand why your Mother went through that grief again at the end of the war - when that didn't happen. 'Knowing' something logically isn't necessarily the same as 'believing' it!

And if we live with a disability or illness for a long time, we have no idea what we would have been like if we hadn't 'got' it - and end up thinking that, if 'it' vanished tomorrow, we'd go back to 'how we were' - which we wouldn't. I've completely lost touch with how much energy / stamina/ speed someone of my age should have. It's disconcerting because I don't know what I'm missing . . . I don't know what I would 'aim' for if there were any point in 'aiming' for anything!