I am a fixer, by nature. I enjoy being in control. I like peace and calm, though I am not afraid of an argument or a fight when necessary. I am a pragmatist. I understand that the world we live in will never foster an environment of peace. I know there will never be tranquility forever, nor will things ever go the way we wish for them to. I am not a cynic, but more of a progressive realist.
There have been many times in my life, as I am sure is the case for everyone, where I wanted so badly to fix an outcome, to fix a person. Today I will share one of those moments.
I very rarely talk about this subject, but it was an important time in my life; one that I am certain many others have experienced as well.
When someone close to you gets sick, really sick, you feel helpless. I had never watched anyone die right in front of me. Yes, I have been to funerals and I have “lost” people that I have cared about, but I had never been a witness to the final weeks, months, years of a person’s life. I had a front row seat to the final act of someone’s life.
To make a long story short, it was two years of a roller-coaster ride for everyone involved. I think in the beginning when I was told, I knew she would not survive the ordeal. I think my mind tried to prepare my heart, but my heart, like the heart of many others, held out for a miracle. For so long I held on to my mentality of being a fixer. I wanted everything to be perfect, I wanted a plan, I wanted a fight. To me, sitting there and talking was never an option because it meant that we had given up hope; that we had conceded the victory.
However, as time went by, my head eventually won out. I knew that I did not have forever, nor did I have more than a very short window of time to just be in the moment, however long that moment was willing to last.
I began to really invest my time and my heart into making memories that would last. Lasting conversations that I could draw on when even a phone call was no longer an option. I began asking important questions and waited to hear the labored responses. Sometimes we would just sit there in the silence and appreciate the fact that time had momentarily forgotten its course of action.
I had never really seen anyone die before. I became afraid to be a part of that, even a small part. I got too afraid.
I picked up the phone one day and talked while she could still listen. I answered every question she had honestly. Then I lied.
“Will you come see me soon?”
Sure. Of course. I’ll let you know.
When I hung up the phone, the fixer part of me rolled like a runaway boulder in my stomach. It tossed and turned until I wanted to be be sick. I wanted to fix her, I wanted to fix the situation for everyone, and when I could not, I knew it was impossible, it was sickening.
I never went to see her. Seven years have passed and the last thing she ever said to me was “come see me soon” and I just could not do it. I really cannot say what part scared me the most. Perhaps it was knowing that it would be the final time, or maybe it was me being selfish. It was probably a mixture of so many things.
Those two years really taught me that I sometimes have to set aside that innate fixer quality, that while not always a bad thing, I have to set it aside and just be there. Be there to listen. Be there to soak up the silence. Just be.
I treasure many of the memories than turned into life lessons. Some of my very favorite memories are just being with people. I know I will never get back that time, and some days it makes me really sad, but I learned a vital lesson and I hope you will, too.