After complaining in my previous article about the end of summer causing me angst, I admitted that writing about it turned out to be therapeutic. Suddenly I was focusing on the positive of the pleasant things to come rather than the doldrums that I had been feeling about summer's-end. I decided that I would continue that theme with this column, and specifically focus on helping my daughter (and hopefully others) through a tough time by trying to accentuate the positive.
The profound axiom "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade..." was my inspiration. The lemon handed to my daughter last month (as I've detailed in prior articles) was a concussion. The lemon has lingered and left a very sour taste in the form of post-concussive disorder. Essentially she is not allowed to do anything until her chronic symptoms subside. In addition to daily headaches, she is extremely sensitive to noise, light, and "annoying" little brothers. She is irritable and depressed. She is especially distraught that her condition will likely prevent her from competing at the North Atlantic Region Figure Skating Championships next month.
I have tried consoling her, and doing little things, like ordering out for her favorite food, to cheer her up. It's funny how excited she gets for boneless Buffalo wings. But pity and spicy capon only get you so far. In no time, the frown is back.
I fully understand what is like to be in such a funk. What she doesn't know is that she was responsible for bringing me out of the worst one of my life about 8 months before she was born when I had been despondent from 2 miscarriages and a subsequent 12-month period of infertility. I had some major "why me?" thoughts that completely pervaded my existence. I remember well how friends and family tried to bring me out of it with words and kind gestures, to no avail. Sometimes, nothing works, though, and it's just easier to languish in self-pity. But I also remember all too well how unhealthy that can be.
So I don't dismiss my daughter's feelings. I can be empathetic, caring, and loving. But, I can also try to be the person who helps her to put things into perspective.
The bottom line is it could be worse. Her concussion could have been more serious. She could have suffered bleeding in the brain from the initial injury, or she could have injured herself more seriously, permanently, or fatally by having gone back to skating immediately following her initial injury. She could be experiencing countless other symptoms, such as periodic loss of consciousness, dizziness, vision problems, memory loss, or vomiting. And while I can appreciate that she misses skating, being active, and having a sense of independence, she can look forward to an eventual return to normalcy. For that, we should be grateful.
Richard Davis, a church pastor from Brookefield, Mo. who was also inspired by the lemonade proverb, described the true meaning of the message: "It's not about what we want out of certain situations; it's about what we can do with those circumstances to make (them) turn out to be more palatable." He added, "Those things in life that sometimes don't make any sense at all are the exact things that we need to face in order to make us into better people."
Pastor Davis is right. Life is hard. And with life, brings adversity. There are many people in the world dealing with their own hardships: Tragedies, serious illness, death, poverty, despair, war. How we respond to adversity is what shapes us; even if our only response is survival.
For better or worse, I would not be the person I am today if it were not for what I went through 14 years ago when I thought I would not have children. I look back on that experience and realize that it made me more compassionate (especially for those who would have similar experiences) and more appreciative (of life, my kids, my husband, and my therapist).
My hope is that my daughter will look back on this experience and, after adding a little sugar and water, realize a few things: That she learned the seriousness of head injuries and won't take the same chances; that sometimes life sucks and throws sour fruit at you; and most importantly, that she is a stronger person for having subsisted during a difficult time.