The holidays this year were particularly difficult.
Chanukah began the day after Thanksgiving, which meant that I had to have my act together for gifts way early, while balancing those that needed to arrive closer to Christmas.
It was my first time away from my family for the holidays, and it posed new challenges, like how to get all the gifts I needed and mail them, which necessitated some creative ordering online that meant I didn’t have to do all of the legwork myself.
This was key considering all of the walking that living in New York necessitates, and the long lines that are typical any time of year, but especially during the holidays.
Aside from that, though, my grandfather passed away suddenly at the beginning of December, which meant that I jumped on a plane to Michigan, with little thought toward anything else.
In reality, nothing else mattered. I’ve never been a light packer, but I only took a small carry-on bag. Other than an outfit for the funeral, I couldn’t really think of anything else I needed.
My illnesses took a backseat, too. I was fighting off a cold, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except being with my family.
Plane travel is also difficult on me, and while it took me about a week to recover from a three day trip, this was just something that had to happen regardless of how my body reacted to it. I didn’t think about spoons. I didn’t think about anything really.
Life, more than illness, dictated my behavior, for the first time in a very long time.
My grandfather was 91 years old, and while the last few years have been physically more difficult, his death was sudden and unexpected. And despite the fact that he lived a full life, it didn’t make saying goodbye any easier.
In fact, it was quite difficult as this is the longest I have ever been away from my family. So I hadn’t seen him in three and a half months.
While I had resigned myself to the fact that he was probably getting to the end of his life, I imagined that he had years, not months, weeks, days, and then inexplicably he was gone.
I think when you’re chronically ill, it’s so easy to look at, acknowledge, and examine how illness complicates life and makes it more difficult. But sometimes, RA isn’t the thing making life difficult. Life makes life difficult.
There is a world outside of illness.
While it’s hard to imagine when you have RA, there are people who go the majority of their lives without being sick and only experience decline at the very end of their lives.
And then there is family and the relationships you have with others, and it makes you feel less alone on this journey.
While 2013 didn’t end very well, I hope that 2014 is happy, healthy, and prosperous for all of us.
On thing is for sure, my grandfather won’t be far.
Published On: January 07, 2014