I’ve been doing a lot of writing in my head lately, and none anywhere else. It’s probably a good thing. Not everything is meant to be written down. And some things are just self-indulgent, whiny, and boring.
I was thinking the other day that we — the global, human we — manage to share the knowledge we learn and pass it around. Take cars. You can just buy one and drive off in it. You don’t have to learn the composition of the rubber in the tires or the laws of aerodynamics or the physics of the combustion engine. Someone else figured out electricity and how to make a gas stove that doesn’t blow up your house and running water, and everyone else can benefit. Well, OK, the same person didn’t figure all of those things out. Probably. I didn’t check.
But then there are all these other things that every single last person has to figure out alone. And we all spend our lives learning the same things everyone else is learning. And then once we really start to figure one thing out, that makes us see all of these other things we haven’t figured out, so we screw up, and learn some more, and make a bunch of mistakes, and change, and then life is over. It would be so much easier if learning to let go and not taking things personally and not saying yes to everything were like electricity. Maybe you could pay a monthly fee to the growth and maturity utility company. I would pay it. Gladly. More than I pay for cable. And for my cell phone. I would give up cable and pay this bill instead.
Not to dwell on the learning, not knowing, knowing that you don’t know, but thinking back to what I thought life was when I was say, 25, makes me very scared about all the things I must be wrong about now but won’t realize until I’m 40.
What I do know is that some members of my family would let me do everything for them, to spend my last moment and last dime on their needs. And they would never realize it. So I have to realize it.
My grandfather had a stroke a few weeks ago. I’m behind on everything because of my surgery and I’ve been traveling way too much, but I wanted to spend time with my grandfather. And while my mom lives with her parents and doesn’t have a job, she’s not really good at getting things done, and when I talked to her on the phone and mentioned I was thinking of coming down, she said it would be a godsend. Because there were phone calls that needed to be made, and people to talk to, and paperwork, and she’s not good at any of that. And it was a vise around my heart, because I know the dark hole that way leads. But I wanted to see my grandfather. And I didn’t want him stuck, alone, in a rehab center with no options because no one was there to find out what his options were.
I don’t want to dwell on the easy things that were missed. How he wanted a phone in his room but my myriad of family down there just thought it wasn’t important and so he went over a week without one until I got there and got a prepaid one with large speed dial buttons and how he hated the scratchy blankets but no one thought to bring him some blankets from home until I asked them too. I don’t want to dwell on any of it. I just wanted to spend time with my grandpa and do what I could for him.
That’s why I was there. But I kept hearing about how great it was that I was there because I could fix the computer and do things so people could go to hair and nail appointments and maybe we could go to the mall and hang out.
And that’s not why I was there. I wasn’t there to give my family a vacation or fix their problems. I have my own problems and would love my own vacation. I was there to make sure my grandfather got the rehab he needed and had equipment when he got home to work with and had a phone and to spend time with him.
My mom took all of this personally. I obviously didn’t want to hang out with her at the mall. Why else was I not doing just that, after all. I wasn’t able to take time off and was working while I was down there, in between going to rehab center and taking care of details. I tried to explain it. Some things are best not to write about. I have learned that I can’t explain these things. That it’s OK if I can’t. That I can’t always do for others just because that’s what they want.
It was a hard week, but I did manage to do what I went down there to do and not get sucked too far down the black hole. And my grandfather is home now and doing much better and he said that he’s glad I came. It’s hard to let go — to know that there’s only so much I can do, but I don’t know what else I can do.
And I can’t save anyone, not even my mom. I can only save myself. She can only save herself. And I just have to let go.