I write a lot about disconnect and freedom and creative longing. I write about importance of self. I speak and think of these far more than I put on paper.
We all have personal tragedies. Each of us. And when I was untouched by mine, I always thought so many of us are almost invincible. We are not. None of us. Each of us is fighting a battle that we don’t share over our virtual lives. We are human, breakable, defeated. We are more connected in our tragedies than in our make-believe happiness.
When my younger daughter was admitted in NICU, she was put under these lights to help her heal from her jaundice. She had an IV snaking around her arm and a heart monitor that measured her life beats. Every time she moved, and being a 10 day old, she was quite twitchy, I had to fix the oxygen pipe supplying her O2 to ease her pneumonia. It wasn’t attached to a mask because she was born too tiny, I guess. I should remember why but I don’t. My brain has removed that bit from my memory.
So there I was, a mental wreck, alone with a child in NICU and another toddler at home with the father. I was sobbing. I spent the entire night- sobbing. I wasn’t strong and I wasn’t calm.
At some point in the night, an old lady from across the aisle walked up to me and asked me to ‘Stay Strong’. She knew I was trying my best but the news about our daughter that we had got that day has broken me and I now , like then, appreciate her choice of words. She didn’t ask me to ‘Be’ strong. She asked me to ‘stay’ strong, even if every tear that dropped from my eyes wasn’t proof of me being anything but strong.
I asked her why was she in NICU. She was there as a guardian for her 6-month old grandson. He had had his one kidney removed that day. Because a fortnight back, he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer.
In that one moment, I achieved perspective that no amount of counselling could have given me. Over the years, as I wait in waiting rooms of paediatric cardiologists, I have always found mothers who inspire me. They make me stronger to deal with my daughter’s issues. In their fortitude I find some of mine.
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle’- it doesn’t stay just another idiom passed by an elder to make me count my blessings. It is something real, something I see everyday around me.
I just wanted to share a story of courage and kindness that had come my way when I had needed it the most.