I have often said that one of my earth angel’s gifts, here amongst us healthy human beings with all our failings, is to teach valuable life lessons. Undoubtedly the greatest of these lessons is that of experiencing and embracing true unconditional love. After many nights and days and months and even years of uncontrollable sobbing – complete with anger, disappointment, guilt, and every other emotion imaginable – I came to a place of understanding this beautiful lesson taught by my precious Brendan Bjorn. And this lesson isn’t just for me. It is for everyone who lets him into their life and allows him to touch their heart. If you truly do that, I promise you will never be the same.
But there is one lesson that I think goes unlearned.
This may be the hardest lesson yet that my son is trying to teach me.
What is the lesson?
Every day, 24 hours a day, my son’s life is in my hands. Literally and figuratively. He depends on me for every single care need imaginable. He depends on me to survive. He depends on me to accurately measure his numerous medications. He depends on me to take the utmost care when I move his fragile body from one position to another. And he depends on me to know what he means by that smile, that look, that grimace, or that cry.
My son depends on me. Full stop.
And herein lies the lesson that I cannot seem to learn – or that I resist with all my might: Being dependent.
I don’t like to depend on others. Over the years, I’ve seen it either get thrown back in my face as a reminder of indebtedness or an excuse to no longer be there to help as if there is a quota on such things. No, it’s just easier to be independent, and so it is what I have always strived to be.
But then the reality of being a lone parent with a severely disabled child arises and shakes me from those past ideals of independence.
Next week, a new wheelchair accessible van arrives for Brendan Bjorn. It was made possible ONLY by the goodness of others. I had to depend on others…and without meaning to sound ungrateful, part of me cannot stand that fact. I feel weak, less-than, and like a disappointment to myself and to my Father’s voice in my head who always lectured about working hard and being self-reliant.
I’m starting to realise maybe, just maybe, it isn’t being dependent. Maybe it is interdependency. Just as Brendan Bjorn gives so much to me, to his brother Declan, and to those who love him, what blossoms is an interdependency, because we do indeed receive so much from him in turn. In caring for him 24/7, it has left me unable to be self-reliant. That is simply a fact of life I have to come to terms with, if only others would too.
We all depend on each other for different things, giving what we can to each other, to the best of our abilities. Is that dependent or interdependent?
I haven’t learned this lesson fully yet, but maybe I see a glimpse of what it could be.