Last week, I typed into my niece’s Facebook comment box that it will get better. And I meant it. But, unlike all the absolutely worthwhile and dear people who are the focus of the “It Gets Better Campaign”, my niece isn’t a homosexual teen trying to rise above cruel aggressors and wrong mindedness. She’s a young woman suffering from a chronic medical condition that’s reeking havoc on her high school experience–which is another way of saying–her whole life.
When I told her it will get better, I believed it. But now she’s in the hospital again and all the zen practice I try to breathe into the situation doesn’t seem to change the fact that it’s impossible to take away her suffering.
I wish I could hop on a plane again, or at least stay home from work all day so I could keep up on our Words With Friends games. Game after game, we place tiles on the virtual iPhone boards we each hold in our hands 2500 miles apart. (I watched those hands grow.) But even if I were right there in the hospital with her doing my shamelessly goofy clown dance, even if she laughed at me, even if I laughed with her, even if Mat Kearney himself showed up to serenade us, she’d still have this condition.
I’ve been watching the “It Gets Better” videos, replacing the concept of “bully” with “illness”. It sounds like this:
“You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve [this]. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of [this], because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. . . . don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.
“The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this [world] a better place.”
It kind of helps, but at the end, she’s still in her body. And her body’s not operating the way it should.
Maybe in the process of “it” getting better, we get better. Better at coping. Better at living. Maybe that’s the reason for our suffering. Maybe we become better people despite what our bodies do (or don’t do), despite what the people around us do (or don’t do), despite the limitations of doctors and teachers and lovers and aunts.
So I breathe, ignore the work deadline, and take my turn at Words.