Sara has posed the questions: Why (on earth) do I write? And, Why do I care if anyone reads it?
May, 1999. I sat on a padded bench, dusty rose in colour. It crossed my mind that perhaps the decorator was trying to lend some gentleness to a space that would overflow with grief and pain. Across from me sat my friend, Carol. In her hands she held a package of fresh, clean tissues; in my hands a wad of the same, soggy and crumpled.
From our position I could see formidable double doors leading into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. On the other side my daughter lay. Fifteen years old, two vertebrae in her neck were crushed from a car accident a few days earlier. Her fragile hold on life was sustained by a tangle of tubes and connectors. I had yet to say the word ‘quadriplegic’, but it bubbled around the edges of my consciousness with an insistence I could no longer refuse.
“You say God is allowing this?” My rage and exhaustion challenged Carol’s faith and ability to share my burden. She was unwavering and emphatic.
“I do. He knows what’s happening. And he understands. He watched his son die on the cross.”
Risking lightning from heaven, my words exploded. “That wasn’t the same at all. Jesus only suffered for a day. Draya’s going to be paralyzed for life!”
Carol looked down, quiet, then lifted her head.
“But think of Jesus. In heaven he had all the power, all the glory. He could do anything. And then he came to live on this earth as a man. Can you imagine how paralyzed he must have felt, giving all that up? Jesus knows.”
Now it was my turn to be quiet. Slowly I gave in. But I wasn’t about to let go completely.
“Then he has to do something for me,” I said.
“He can’t let all this go to waste. If we have to go through this horror, please, Lord, let it be used to help others somehow, someday.”
And so I began to write, recording, processing, sharing my pain with Jesus. The words stayed on my shelf as twelve years passed.
Winter, 2011. I sat with my mother in her living room. Ninety years old, she could no longer pretend that her dementia was manageable. Her horror was that she’d have to leave her house, her home of forty years. Her fear was that she’d stay too long and not be able to make the transition.
Suddenly she rose, her tiny frame trembling with fury.
“Somebody has to write about this. This is happening in other people’s brains. People have to know!”
Tears ran down her face and her pain, her need settled like a shroud over my being.
That night as I recorded the incident in my journal, I realized that in my hands was the story of my mother’s journey, and my struggle as her caregiver. And beside these same notes were the stories of my daughter’s journey.
Somebody has to write about this… . People have to know.
That’s when I began writing in earnest.
Bobbi lives with her husband in Edmonton Alberta, where she works full time. Two adult children are successfully launched. Their daughter’s disability has become secondary to regular living: Draya is married, and runs a successful business. Bobbi’s memoir, The Reluctant Caregiver, is in final stages of editing. She is looking to God to see where it will go next. In the meantime, Bobbi does speaking engagements, and shares her experiences on her blog, www.bobbijunior.com.
Thank you for being a guest on my blog, Bobbi, and for reminding us of the incredible power of words – to let others know they aren’t alone, to show empathy and compassion, and to heal.
Press on, my friends. Press on,