Since my diagnosis and hospitalizations I have often had people ask me how I am doing. It is always such a loaded question, like, where do I begin? How much do they know? How much do they want to know? Should I be honest, or should I act like I am doing good?
Most of the time I say something along the lines of, “I am hanging in there.” or, “today is a good day.” I just figure no one wants to hear, “Well, I threw up all night and I haven’t pooped in a week, but enough about me, how’s the family doing, Susanne?” Turns out, people don’t just ask this question to take up time. They genuinely want to comprehend how I am doing and what they can do for me. I learned this when recently a friend asked how I was doing and I replied with, “I am feeling so much better.” She then turned to me without skipping a beat and said, “Okay, thanks for accommodating me. How are you really doing?”
I paused and just let it roll. I may have rolled it too eagerly because pretty soon I was a sobbing mess, but my friend didn’t falter or awkwardly change the subject. She listened. She sympathized. And the surprising part was that she thanked me for being authentic because then she was better able to understand my needs. It was there that I was realized that being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak; it makes you stronger for being genuine.
The other thing I have learned is that people want to help, people want to be needed. I have seen this countless times as I have watched my tribe of family, friends, acquaintances and strangers have offered their love and assistance. This has been a very humbling experience for me…to say the least. I have always wanted to do things myself. I have a really hard time asking for help. I would almost rather serve everyone around me before asking someone to lighten MY load. I always thought like asking for help made me inferior, but then I would get upset when some of my friends kindly refused my help when I offered. By the way, why is this a problem with women? It seems like men easily can text someone, “hey bro, wanna help me move my whole house this Saturday? K, cool.”
After my incident happened and I was on the long road to recovery I literally could not do certain things. I have felt so much love for people who jumped right in to fulfill the things I could no longer do.
I feel love as I watch people deliver dinner to Peyton and Samantha. I feel love as I see a whole ward of mothers look after my children when I am in the hospital. I felt love as my new friend, a cosmetologist, came to my home to wash, cut and style my hair the night I got home from the hospital. I felt love as my friend came to the hospital armed with a girls night in activities and proceeded to curl my hair and paint my nails.
I have felt love as people have sent baby blankets, get well soon cards, inspiring books and beautiful flowers. I felt love as I have been given countless priesthood blessings from so many willing men. I feel love when my daughter shouts to me as I am laying down, “I hope you feel better!” I have felt overflowing love as I have watched my mother, father, and in-laws dedicate months and months of traveling to Florida to help us. I feel love as a friend has been doing my laundry.
I felt love when our friends came and spent their vacation watching my kids, cleaning my house and running errands for me. I felt love when a few days after my surgery my husband carried me into the hospital shower and washed my injured body, completely drenching his fully clothed body in the process.
I often have thought about this whole situation as a nightmare and an experience that impaired my life within a few minutes. I have recently started to try and shift my thinking to all of the incredible blessings that I have seen and the love I have felt as this has transpired. Had this never happened I would never have become closer to my husband, my parents, my sister, Peyton’s coworkers, my new friends and fellow church members.
If you are struggling with a difficult situation, may I share with you what I am starting to slowly learn? There is good. Find it. Hold onto it and try and grasp it when you feel like you can’t go on another minute. Feel love as people administer service for you. A nurse in the hospital shared something with me when I was being discharged and overwhelmed at the thought of recovery. She said, “Someone asked me if I could eat an elephant.” Of course, I replied, “No!” To which they told me, “You could…one small bite at a time.”
Remember, the Lord has not given you more than you can handle. These trials and hardships will make you so much stronger in the future. I know this can be difficult to hear when you just want to curl up in a ball and sulk in self-loathing. But, I know that you (and all of us!) were not sent to earth to be miserable. So if you are going to walk away with anything from this post; let it be this. Be vulnerable. Ask for help, feel love through the help and look for the good. I know you can do it!