Have you ever cried so much that your eyes seemed like they would fall right out of their sockets? Have you ever wept so much that every inhalation felt like you were sniffing ground-up glass? Have you ever bawled long enough that your eyes were tiny yet swollen slits and your lungs hurt every time air entered or exited them? Have you ever hurt so deeply and so completely that you seriously thought you’ll never recover? Have you ever wanted crawl into your bed right now, in the midst of this swirling inferno of misery, and never, ever get up?

Don’t call or text or ring the doorbell because there will be no answer. None.
At some point in this future I may find the strength to plaster on an insincere smile and reply “Fine” when asked the inevitable “How was your Mother’s Day?” But I won’t mean it. I won’t feel it.

I just won’t.

Don’t bother telling me I have so much to be grateful for. Don’t insult me by telling me to look on the bright side. Don’t waste my time pointing out all the good in my life.

Just don’t.

I can endure the long-distance slog that is facing a cancer diagnosis. I’ve never been one to deceive myself when reality stared me in the face.

I can handle hearing the worst possible news and do it with an inquisitive look on my face.

I can hear the worst-possible news with dignity and without falling apart (at least not in public).

I can face everyone’s worst nightmare without ever once whimpering, crying, or losing it.

I can digest the worst-case scenario with a straight back and a strong will.

I can formulate a Plan-B after Plan-A dissolves like the pages in a generations-old photo album, then start working on Plan C as soon as it becomes apparent that Plan B is hopeless, too.

I can dot every “i” and cross every “t” and still be shocked when there’s no pay-off for playing by the rules.

I can handle more stress than I ever before imagined, and I can get through more harrowing ordeals than I ever would have expected.

I can endure worse pain than that required to bring a new life into the world.

I can take it when I’m told again & again that no one anticipated the scenario that has become my reality.

I can suck it up and grit my teeth through repeated instances of “no one saw this coming.”

I can make it thorough the extreme mental challenges that follow a worst-case-scenario physical test.

I can serve as the poster child for “who in the hell has that kind of terrible bad luck?”

I can thrive amidst the “everything that could go wrong did go wrong” scene.

I can be the one that even the oddsmaker wouldn’t have predicted–and not in a big-winner way.

But pit me barefoot against a goat-head thorn and I may just crumble. Ask me to endure that sharp stick of brittle thorn into the tender flesh between my toes, and I may not make it.

That thorn may just do me in.

10 Comments on “Endurance”

  1. Wendy Langley says:

    I think there’s room in my pocket for you till tomorrow morning.

  2. mmr says:

    Gal, that was an awesome piece of writing. I’m sorry you’re in pain– but you still managed to make me feel proud of the things I’ve been through too, while recognizing the fragility of the tough facade. And you know the worst part? Your mom isn’t here to comfort you. So I’m not going to say “happy M- Day “. I’ll say cancer sucks and you have my utmost empathy, but I admire you, and thank you for speaking the truth about pain, and I’ll bet your mom is looking at you with great pride always.

  3. AnneMarie says:

    Just Sending HUGS… and tons of love….

    You know you aren’t alone. Tons of us have your back…..


  4. Christy says:

    :(. I’m so sorry !

  5. Lauren says:

    just be where you are today. eat ben and jerrys, drink champagne for breakfast….just be where today is…i woke up today the same way, missing my mom, feeling kinda overly shit on in the shit cosmic shit dept. We know it gets better, but the in between sucks….

    • mmr says:

      That is a classic statement: felling overly sh#t on in the cosmic sh#t dept. Love it! As Jan also mentions, it’s hard to grit your teeth sometimes and say “I’m fine” when the cosmic sh#t has hit you. And yet everyone expects you to say that.

  6. jbaird says:

    I’m so terribly sorry, Nancy. I missed my mom terribly yesterday. I just can’t muster the word “Fine” anymore when people ask how I am or how a holiday is. Thanks for articulating so well what so many of us feel. xo

  7. Jody Hicks says:

    This was my first year without my mother, and while I was privileged to have mine around much longer than you were, I was still expecting to be sending flowers and wine again this year, and I missed getting to talk to her. That hole will always be there, but your mom left such a beautiful legacy that will always live on through you – and now in the budding girlie chef!

  8. “I can dot every “i” and cross every “t” and still be shocked when there’s no pay-off for playing by the rules.” I will NEVER stop being shocked when there is not a pay-off for playing by the rules, and I’m wound too tight to be a rule-breaker, sigh

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