Rheumatoid Arthritis Won’t Stop Me
When disease enters a home, we always tend to think that the person who is ill is the only “victim” of what is happening. I will tell you a story about someone close to me, because in the end the moral is that we are all affected by the things that happen to the people we love. For better and for worse.
The first memory that she has of her mother, or at least one of the first ones, because she does not remember clearly, is having slept over with her aunt Juani who lived in the adjoining building on her street, with her brother, because mum was in the hospital. They stayed there for several days, she doesn’t know exactly how many, as she was no more than five or six years old.
In fact, whenever she talks to me about her, she says that she doesn’t remember her being healthy, which reinforces the idea that this disease was part of her normality.
Her environment, which was a bit … let’s say “male-dominated”,. made her responsible for helping her mother from an early age, being the second sibling, but the first of the girls.
She liked the usual things at her age: games, mischief, being with her friends, but she spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence deprived of that freedom. When she compared herself to her friends, she felt like she had an obligation.
We said that it was “normal” for her when she was little, but as she grew up, the little time she had to herself no longer seemed so normal and she rebelled against it, and she grunted, and did “her homework” reluctantly, and she didn’t understand what was the difference between men and women in that house and the very different demands on each.
And so it was that over time, she rebelled against everything and she left.
And she left behind the love that belonged to those that turn into frogs in fairy tales, and instead of returning, she stayed three thousand kilometers away. I think I remember that it was the first time that she put her needs first before those of others.
By this time, she was already more than twenty years old, and she lived her life and showed interest in others at times, from a distance, because what you don’t know can’t hurt you.
She didn’t know what she wanted in life, but she knew what she didn’t want.
She did not want to marry and have to take care of a husband, like her father for example. And she didn’t want to have children. And she did not want children because that disease could be hereditary, and she did not want to put anyone through the same thing that she had experienced.
So she closed the door to that possibility without pain, from a place of objectivity and without it feeling like a drastic decision.
But plans sometimes go awry.
One day she met the person she thought could make all her dreams come true (later it would be revealed that it was not like that). Yes, he managed to not be like her father, that cannot be denied. Over the years, I don’t know what clicked in her head that made them decide to have children and to get married. If you ask her now if she would make the same decision again, she is certain she would, as her children are the most wonderful thing she has. She forgot her why, she forgot that she did not want to be a mother and why she did not want to be one. She enjoyed motherhood from a point of view of instinct, love, happiness, fear …
And one day, when her marriage was over, they gave her the news: Rheumatoid Arthritis with a bad prognosis. She was so shocked in the doctor’s office that she needed time to understand what they were telling her. She had forgotten that could happen! And it was happening …
First, she does not understand what is happening because she has experienced this, how her mother’s walk sounded metallic because of the eternal crutches that helped her walk, later replaced by that fabulous electric wheelchair that gave her life back. So she didn´t understand. If nothing hurts, if she does not have pain, if she is already 41 and it is the first indication of this illness …
So, in short, her belief is strengthened and she affirms: It is not what happens to us, it is the attitude we take before things that happen to us.
It is likely that at some dark moment she herself has caused this, and she can no longer go back. And since she ONLY KNOWS HOW TO GO ON, she does not spend more time than necessary to analyze this, nor to wonder about the past. She has stopped idealizing the people around her, and she tries to surround herself with the people who contribute the most to her positivity. She returns as many times as necessary to the starting point if she sees that some black soul is dragging her down and is convinced that one must enjoy the little things. Nothing else is necessary, no ostentatious things, nothing that doesn’t involve being calm and at peace.
So, when she told me her story and I understood it fully, in all its magnitude, I integrated the phrase that we both read in the last Book Awarded the Premio Planeta: I ONLY KNOW HOW TO GO ON.