Fear and Worry. I’ve spent a good deal of my life suspended in these states of feeling. Though I’m not one to size up the “fairness” of my life experiences with those of other people’s lives, I think I can say that I’ve had my share of the kind of experiences that invite Fear and Worry to drop in and stay around a while. Over time, they have become permanent fixtures in my personality–elements I’ve had to learn how to manage, understand, and even embrace at times.
My mother, at only 53 years of age, died from neuroendocrine cancer on November 12, 2009. She fought a vicious battle with her disease for 8 months before she died. It was, as you can imagine, it was a life-changing experience for me. I learned many bittersweet lessons through her ordeal and death, one of which helped me in my own ongoing struggle with Fear and Worry. I understood how sick she was, and although I did not allow myself to give up hope, I also knew that she would not survive. I made a conscious decision to not allow myself to surrender too much of my energy to Fear and Worry, because to do so would have meant that I would not have had the energy I needed to focus on the time I had left with her. I simply could not allow my fears of her impending death, nor my worries about how I could possibly live my life without her, to consume the time we had left together to watch the hummingbirds come and go, to listen to the loons sing their haunting song, and to make memories. This is not to say that I never felt worried or afraid; I cried myself to sleep nearly every night, and never got through a day without breaking down. It just means that I made a decision to keep on living alongside her, and to surrender only when there truly was no other choice.
After her death, Fear and Worry came out full-force and have triggered a significant struggle inside me these many months. One of my most significant worries has been that I, myself, might fall sick and leave my young children behind. And running a close second, has been the fear and worry that something horrible would happen to my children. My desperate wishing to have my mother by my side and in my ear had never, ever been so intense as it was in those early hours of Madeline’s diagnosis and treatment. I like to think she was there, in the way that she could be, and that it was her who aligned the events that saved my daughter’s life.
Madeline’s diagnosis has, of course, left me practically drowning in Fear and Worry at times. I use the lessons learned from my mom’s experience every single day: do not give Fear and Worry about diabetes too much energy, for I need it to help my daughter and my family to rebalance and lead as healthy a life as possible. But oh, it is a difficult task. It’s worst in the middle of the night, when Fear and Worry convince me that Madeline might be having a low while she is sleeping, and won’t wake up again. Maybe that’s the silver lining: certainly, there is no way that Fear and Worry will ever allow me to sleep deeply again, but instead will drive me to Madeline’s beside armed with the lancet and glucometer, just to make sure she’s okay.