Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It could be worse

Last night we got a call from my mother-in-law. My in-laws are about to embark on their trip south to Florida and called to say good-bye and give last minute instructions regarding watering their plants, taking in the mail etc. etc. etc.

My mother-in-law sounded sad on the phone and immediately told me that her good friend's son died a few days ago, completely unexpectedly. This man was 32 years old, apparently healthy and woke up with chest pains. He then keeled over and died. Heart attack? Heart arrhythmia? Who knows. It's terribly sad.

What socked me in the gut however, was my mother-in-law telling me that this man and his wife have a four month old. Their son was born healthy and full term one week after Aidan. This is a couple, who only a few days ago I would have been massively jealous of. Why did they have a healthy full term baby, and I didn't? Why is life so unfair? What did they do to deserve a healthy baby and not me? And now...well this man's mother has lost her son. His wife has lost her husband. His son has lost a father.

His wife could now look at me and Brian and wonder "Why did my husband die? He was fine and healthy. He had a good life. He had everything to live for. Why my husband and not hers?"

"Them" have suddenly become "us". A family missing a member. A heart no longer whole.

I remember reading in the paper, maybe a year ago, an article about a young girl who suffered with a genetic disorder. The mother of this young girl talked about how she was organizing a fund-raiser to garner money to support research into her daughter's condition. She made an interesting point that has always stuck with me. She said, that while her daughter deals with a lot, she is actually on the mild end of a spectrum of her disorder. The family considers themselves lucky. The mother understood that the hand they were dealt, while not perfect, could be worse. The mother stated, "If you had 1,000 people throw their problems into a pile, you would end up going and grabbing yours back."

This is true for so many things in life. I'm a congenital cardiac patient and have one of the more severe types of heart malformations...yet I function very well and am a 'good' cardiac patient. Most people who don't know me are amazed when I tell them what I've lived with...yet I know I'm lucky. It could be so much worse.

Same with the kids I saw at work today. They all are regulars at the hospital, needing specialized medical care to cope with their illnesses...yet they do as well as they can, and are glad to be there. Our treatments, while inconvenient or painful, make their overall quality of life better and may even prolong or sustain their lives. They are lucky.

That woman who just lost her husband may be taking solace in her baby son right now. She may hold him and snuggle him and think to herself "At least I have my son. A piece of my husband is still with me".

Now, I know, I know, there are not many things worse than losing your child. I might gladly rush to grab someone else's disaster out of that pile of 1000. But, I also realize, I am learning to live with this sadness. I am learning to live with the loss of my son, while also finding contentment and even joy in my life. I am grateful for many things. My husband remarked last night that while he might have been willing to sacrifice himself to save Aidan...he wouldn't be willing to trade Aidan for me.

So people, moral of the post sucks all over. Love the ones you have. Be grateful.

It could be worse.

Do you think it could be worse?


  1. Well for me it is an easy question to answer. Yes. It could be worse.

    Sometimes I feel as though life is like a big, scary forest and we are all waiting for various monsters to jump out at us from behind the trees. If you might lose a baby, you might lose your husband, you might be hit by a bus, you might be diagnosed with cancer. You don't know which one(s) is your monster but it's coming. Some form of suck is in the post. So you may as well enjoy what you've got whilst you've got it.

    I've gone from being quite negative to almost Pollyannaish, all in the space of one comment there. x

  2. Thanks for this post. I've been wondering a lot lately if "us" and "them" are really not as different as I tend to imagine.

    It can always be worse. What scares me about this is that, at any moment, things could change for the worse. I spend a lot of time being grateful (hopefully as much time as I spend being angry), and also a lot of time looking over my shoulder and hoping the other shoe doesn't drop.

  3. Soon after Charlotte died I was talking about how life couldn't get any worse, and my husband said, Babe, it can always get worse. It's true, it can, and sometimes it does.

    We all have our obstacles, we've all been dealt unfair hands, but there are moments when I can't help but wonder if this is one of the worst hands to receive.

  4. Of course, things can be worse. I hate to imagine what that would be, though. Cause this is way more than someone should have to endure.

    The knowledge that things could be worse really does a number on me. I've developed into a pretty fearful person over the last couple of years. I hate that I've become this paranoid person, but I can't get over the feeling that something worse is just waiting to happen, and it inevitable.


  5. it could absolutely be worse. thank you for this reminder. i have a lot to be grateful for.

  6. It's always good to have a little perspective, thanks. I easily get wrapped up in my grief and it is very important to count our blessings, and hold onto our loved ones...maybe even more now

  7. This was a wonderfully written post. I have often thought those exact same thoughts, but you put it into words beautifully.

  8. oh jeez Emily, it can always be worse, but I don't like to contemplate it.

    I love how you have written this. I am glad you are learning to live with your sadness.

  9. Yes, things could be worse. This is why we plod on with our lives despite our grief. This is why we strive to survive each and every day. Thank you for the post. It reminded me to be grateful for what I still have amid the shitty hand I'm dealing with now.