There isn’t always an upside. This I believe. Sometimes things are just bad.
Sometimes life just hurts. This I believe.
I lost my optimistic side when I was eight. It was a Sunday afternoon. My family had just driven back from a holiday weekend in Maine. We stopped to visit my grandmother who was recovering from two strokes and a quintuple bypass surgery, first in the hospital and then in a rehabilitation center. They had told us that the bypass would improve her health. In fact, it triggered the second stroke. It was just about a full year later. This began a long struggle. First she was on a respirator which she had to be weaned off over several months. I remember actually thinking it was odd that no other eight year old I knew could work a respirator. I guess that was my normal. Next, my grandmother began her second struggle, to stay alert, if only for a few hours, and finally, she struggled to begin talking again. She fought hard every step of the way. I tried so hard to be strong for her and I was so proud of her. Sadly, our relationship was never better than during this period. I regret that now, and yet, I am glad we had this struggle that created a new connection between us.
I remember seeing her in May, the week before MCAS was starting. I was in fourth grade. I was nervous. She told me how well I would do. I remember feeling a reassurance, a bond.
Walking into the rehabilitation center that day, I remember seeing the fire trucks and the ambulance with lights flashing at the door. I remember, in the spilt second that I saw the trucks, thinking about last week’s conversation with my grandmother, thinking those trucks could never be for her. She was doing so well; she was talking; she was joking. She was getting better.
But, as we walked in, they pulled us aside to join the rest of my crying family. I was shocked. Never before had I been so truly hopeful, so optimistic. She had tried so hard; she had defied what all the doctors had said; she had proved them wrong. I was getting my grandmother back.
I remember losing my grandmother that day. I remember thinking that I had just gotten her back. I remember it hurt.
I will never forget. Because.
Because reality can really cut you down to size. Because life is not like television, and there isn’t always a happy ending to make us smile, to show the journey was worthwhile. Because sometimes, it isn’t.
Sometimes, there’s no bright side. Life just hurts. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.