Sickness sucks. Really, it does. It’s awful and unfair and scary and…well, sucky.
But it does make us kinder.
People have been so, so kind to me through this trial. And I’m not talking about pity, either. I’m talking about my teenage students who are sensitive to my needs, who are quiet when I need it, who ask about my health and do what they can to help me. I’m talking about former students of mine (and in some cases, even their parents) who have been driving me home from work (40 miles!) at least once a week. I’m talking about coworkers who took over my supervision and detention duties for the rest of the year. I’m talking about a sub who volunteered to cover for me one day a week for the rest of the year to ease my burden of finding rides. I’m talking about the get well cards (some homemade!) and phone calls and flowers and signs and balloons and cakes and gifts. I’ve been overwhelmed by generosity and kindness, and a lot of it has come from teenagers.
But it does, strangely enough, unite us.
Since my diagnosis, people have shared their own struggles with sickness with me, and I’ve been brave enough to share mine with others as well. I reached out and shared my own story with an epileptic student at the school where I teach. I wanted to show her that she wasn’t alone in this. (She is literally the only other epileptic I’ve ever met—I was feeling pretty alone myself, truth be told.) It was nice to talk to another person who understood what I was feeling, who understood my frustrations, my fears, my side effects, who couldrelate. And later that same day, another student came to me during her lunch period and told me about her own struggle with Lyme disease, and we bonded over our aggravations about feeling betrayed by our own bodies, about losing control, about the horrors of treatments, especially ones that don’t work.
Yes, sickness sucks. Find someone who disagrees—I dare you.
But it reminds us what we can do for each other. It draws us out of ourselves. It makes us less selfish. It makes us better people. It reminds us how short life is, how precious, how beautiful. It has been a blessing to be the recipient of such an outpouring of grace, and I can’t wait to pay it forward.