As I walked through the living room area to the kitchen, I passed my cat, Rascal, sleeping on the heated throw in the recliner. I just thought, "A cat's life is so hard!"
But just like a cat, a human's life can either be cozy and warm or truly hard to handle. Rascal is loved and has been since he ran into my door at age three months. He has always been well fed, had a clean litter box, given everything I could ever give him and loved beyond belief. He is a treasure in my life.
If it were not for him, I wouldn't have a reason to get up in the morning. I've been a caregiver since I could walk. Having a mother who was terribly ill ever since I could remember, I spent most of my time taking care of her and her needs up through the time I left for the final two years of college in KY. I returned to care for her, my dad and brother until they died. It is a part of who I am. I am a caregiver.
Now that my illness(s) have progressed and I have no family to be a caregiver to me, that desire to be a caregiver has never left. It has combined with a deep love for God's creatures (thanks to my Daddy who loved them, also). We all have different paths to follow in life. Each year brings or takes away another. As long as an animal shows up on my doorstep in need or hungry, I know in my soul it is my calling to care for them. I can honestly say they are more loving and appreciative than people for the kindness.
It is a terrible burden to be on the other side of not being loved and cared for in this life. My thoughts have drifted to my mother a great deal this month since her birthday was the 25th and she died on the 18th. How I wish I could remember one kind word she said to me. How I wish I could remember one good encouraging direction she sent me in. Anything. But my memories involve someone who didn't want another child, who told me repeatedly how much she hated me and wished I had never been born. What I wouldn't give to have one good memory.
I am a firm believer in the fact that if a person is loved, truly loved, there is nothing they cannot do. Confidence, drive, direction, etc., are part of their life. It truly is a life of day and night.
This past week I had a conversation with someone who asked if people sent their children to certain colleges in order for them to meet the right people, to pick the right families, to be in the right circles. I'm sure they do. It never occurred to me until then that my hope for a better future out of the one I had been born into was shaken by that sentiment. It never occurred to me that as hard as I fought to pull myself out of the environment I was raised into would not matter to someone who was looking for a certain person born into the right kind of family. I worked hard, paid my way through college, and was determined to pull myself up from the poverty from which I was raised.
As the years have passed I have learned lessons far more valuable that where to send your children or who they should marry (since I never married and had no children). I have learned to be kind and compassionate since these two things are becoming more rare than hen's teeth in our society. I have learned to accept someone for who they are, how they are, and where they are in life. I have learned to care by listening. There are far too many people who talk and waste words simply to be heard and seen. I can count on one hand the number of people who actually listen, care and do something about it.
In the latter stages of my illness(es), I have felt as though wearing a sign around my neck saying "I may not look sick, but I'm suffering inside" might be so much easier than subjecting myself into a group of people who constantly say hateful, inappropriate and uncaring things. If I am not subjected to these comments, I'm ignored. I don't know which one is worse. I do know both are harmful to body, mind and soul.
Nowadays if I don't have a doctor's appointment or hospital tests, I'm home alone. I don't see another human being. I don't get phone calls. I am just struggling to make it through.
Then I simply want to go home. No matter how foul my mother was, home was still a comfort to me. My room, my bed, my boundaries. I just want to walk in, shut the door and go to sleep and feel that "ahhhhhhhhhh" feeling once more in my life.
It has become terribly hard for me to walk a short distance so being trapped inside has made it worse. I might as well be back in Alabama. My back has worsened. I have shortness of breath due to lung issues, and I simply cannot function like a normal person anymore. The extremely cold temperatures have wreaked havoc on me. I find myself on the sofa or in bed wrapped in a blanket most of the time. It all started with a disease known as systemic lupus and has spiraled out of control with the addition of many others.
At the beginning of this month, an old college friend died in her sleep. She was 49. Her sister found her the next day. She was lucky. No years of suffering. She wasn't left for days or weeks before someone found her. Most would disagree with me, but if you saw life from this side, you'd understand more.
Life can be so hard. It is so important to be compassionate and kind to every soul we meet because we do not know what hardship they have been through or what struggle they face. Whether you can make a financial difference in someone's life or simply give them love and listen, make a difference. In a world filled with selfishness, those things are needed more than ever.
Today make a difference in the life of one of God's creatures - whether human or animal.