Only One Question Left

I have never really known the meaning of support until now. It had always had a general definition in my mind but never really had any special place. Now I know better.

To face a hardship, a trial, a burden, can be an immensely scary and difficult thing. To wonder what will happen to you, where you will go, how you will continue, if you will be okay. It is often overwhelming.

But when there is a support beneath you, around you, under you and behind you, that is something entirely different.

And believe me when I tell you that it is a wonderful thing to behold!

I went into my hardship with tears and thoughts of darkness, wondering where it would lead me. I had seen this kind of thing happen to others and I began to think deep down that it would not end well for me. The weight on my shoulders was a near physical thing and tears were quick to make an appearance. I felt lost, alone, and helpless.

Little did I know that I wasn't.

Because my support was quick to step up in the form of my brother.

A hand on my knee and a well of tears that mirrored my pain joined me in that little room and said, 'you are not alone, I know you hurt and I am here.' And that is something that hit hard. No words were said, none at all, but the message was crystal clear.

I felt a little stronger right there.

My trial continued, it would not be stopped simply by a physical touch and a sharing of tears, but the support flowed right along with it. The steady presence of my brother remained at my side and he helped me to find ways through the new obstacles that began to appear. He did what he could to help and reached out to others when he too started to become lost. I noticed every little bit of effort and marveled at the thought that he was doing it for me, because he felt a love deep enough to overcome his own fears and doubts and just do what needed to be done so that I would be able to keep going.

Never, never, will I forget the quiet courage and strength behind those terrified and pained eyes that remained by my side. I will always be forever grateful.

Then came more problems, big ones and little ones together, adding up and looking like a solid wall that could never be breached.

My faithful brother was still at my side but even he was beginning to flag in the face of everything. It was looking like it would be too much. But I did not need to worry. Because then there were two more solid supports there to take up another corner of the burden. They appeared out of nowhere and began looking for ways to see what could be done, asking questions, delivering the love they brought from others that could not join them. They stood by my side and they showed me that my brother and I had support, that we were not alone in our fight.

The weight on my shoulders, of my own problems and the worry for my brother, began to melt a little further.

Then when more news came in and the darkness wanted to spread back in, here came two more. A warm wave of love and worry stepped up to my side and grabbed my hand. The two new arrivals looking nervous but ready for a fight. I cautiously began to latch onto this little army growing around me and dared to hope that maybe I could do this. But at the same time, I looked at them and did not want to drag them down into my troubles. I did not want to them to have to endure just because I was feeling weak and scared. What right did I have to steal from their strength and happiness? It was so hard to look at their offered shelter and see it as something that I should accept.

Why are you doing this? I thought. This is a problem in my life, not yours. If you step in now I might bring you down with me and I do not want to weigh on you forever afterwards.

I tried to keep a brave face and to convince them that I would be okay, that they didn't need to sit at my side and hold my hand.

I am a grown up. I can handle this. I do not want to become a burden to you.

I did not succeed in keeping them from seeing my fear. They saw through my false front, as quick as you please, and planted themselves at my side with a smile and wave of their hand.

'We are staying and there is nothing you can do about it.'

The rest of my closest family came soon after that, little moons of nervous fear that hovered on the edge and wondered what was to be done. They looked just as lost as I felt and I feared that they would fall in the face of it all. But that didn't stop them from being there. It didn't stop them from holding my hand and speaking soft words of comfort that were damp around the edges with tears. To know that they were just as frightened as I was helped to justify my own inner fears and helped me to realize that what I was feeling was normal. It was okay for me to feel scared, I was reacting just how I should be reacting and it was okay to let it show.

As the night went by, my support remained. A comforting presence, quiet and steady in the corner of the room. And when I woke up with fear and confusion and disbelief, I heard a sleepy voice in the dark that I shall never forget.

"You doing okay?"

Yes, my friend. Yes, now I am doing okay. Because you have reminded me that you are still here with me. Just knowing you are there is a relief, because you are the bright beacon that says there is a safe little haven to duck into should I ever need it.

I could not believe the feeling that flowed through me at the sound of those three simple words. I felt something soften inside and I closed my eyes with a smile, totally amazed that someone had taken one look at me and said, 'no, I am not leaving because I just know that you will need me later.' And they were completely right. My earlier emotional confusion had blinded me and made me think that I could handle my fears alone for just one night, made me think that I would be okay by myself until the morning. It is clear now that if I had been alone that night I would have been blindsided by a wave of unknown emotions with nowhere familiar or comfortable to turn to. I am sure I would have shattered. But my support saw it coming and prevented me from splintering into something that would be even harder to piece back together.

It was an incredible and touching moment that did wonders in shoring up my reserves.

The next day was more of the same trials. New problems and offered solutions that, to me, looked like painful and horribly difficult obstacle courses to be navigated. But my support system was still there.

New people came and went, staying in shifts by my side as long as each of their lives would allow and offering whatever small scrap of comfort or help that they could find inside them. They helped me to sort out the maze of my upcoming future.

Small gifts and cards and flowers began to appear almost immediately. There were visits from ones who lived far away or led busy lives, short but still bursting with a desire to be a part of my recovery. Words written in both adult and children's handwriting offering thoughts of comfort and ways to find bits of joy. Phone calls and text messages were abundant and I began having more trouble keeping up with the flood of love and concern than I did with facing my fears.

The path in front of me quickly began to look like it was possible. It no longer looked like a long dark narrow trail, but instead looked like a wide road lined with signs and lights to guide my way. A road where, if I ever stumbled or fell, there would be many hands ready and eager to lift me into just as many comfortable resting places where I could recover my strength before continuing on.

The ones that could physically be with me made sure that I was cared for. They asked questions of me and coordinated with the others helping me. They took notes when needed and made schedules of things that would need to be done in the coming future. They quickly set up a system to help me through everything as it was happening and most of the time I wasn't even aware that it was being done. Looking back I am still floored by the skill that was put into play through everything. Because of their foresight and willingness to help, I was able to just focus on dealing with my part of it. My emotions and well-being. And that is something that cannot be overlooked in any hardship.

I was never truly alone through any aspect of my ordeal. Even if there wasn't a person right there with me, I was always aware that they were fighting for me. The phone calls and messages continued. I received random pictures and jokes to help me keep my smile in place and the flowers and cards that had been left gave me constant reminders that the effort to support me was still ongoing, it was just sometimes momentarily outside of my physical sight.

Word spread and friends of friends were contacted. My plight was made clear to as many as possible and the support group began to grow even further. Offers of physical and emotional help poured in from all sides and my smile continued to widen and deepen. I could not even begin to think of what I needed, but their offers showed me that whatever I asked for would be taken care of as soon as possible and I did not need to worry at all. Even people I had never met before were coming up with ideas and solutions that would come into play as my situation changed and evolved.

People rallied behind me and I began to see that true definition of support.

My family remained with me, feeling the emotional weight of everything and dealing with it in their own way. Unsure how to really feel or act they certainly were not unnoticed by my growing group of support. I felt new tears, this time of happiness, when my immediate family was sucked up into the plan of action. They would be cared for just as smoothly as I was and it eased even more of the weight.

My extended family stepped in as well. When they saw places where they could make a solution to a problem easier to endure they voiced their eagerness without hesitation. They showed me ways I could save my strength, how I could do what needed to be done but still be supported in the process.

They offered housing and meals and rides to needed destinations. All without thought of payment.

I looked at it all and wondered how I had gotten such a wonderful thing.

Am I really worth all of this to them?

Turned out the answer from them all was the same.

"Yes!"

That answer is now a solid golden shine deep deep down that I know will never go away.

My closest friends continued to close in around me, shielding me from the hurt and mental exhaustion by showing me ways to look at my problems with humor. They made me laugh and let me show my sadness when I needed it. They listened when I talked and they talked when I couldn't. They made room in their busy lives and they refused to be turned away. I have never felt anything like it before and I have never felt any closer to them than I do now.

My future is still unsure. My plans are still being made and adjusted. My situation is still changing from one moment to another. My thoughts are still a mess and hard to keep in any kind of order. But I am not the least bit afraid.

Because I know that I am loved. I know that I am not alone through any of it. And I know that my support system will continue to change into whatever is required.

So, yes, I have now learned the true definition of support and I am also beginning to learn that sometimes I just need to admit to myself that there are times where I am not strong enough alone. Admitting that fact allows me to find the courage to reach out and accept an offered hand. A hand that will gladly hold onto me as I let myself feel and will gently guide me back to the surface if I am too weak or confused to find my way.

Going through something like this has shown me what is possible when people come together, but it has also revealed one other thing. Something that I wish I knew the answer to, but I am almost positive I will never find. I now can see no way to express, in written or spoken words or even actions, the true depth of my heartfelt gratitude.

Even if my trial has no real end, even if I must always deal with it for the rest of my life, I hope with all of my heart that one day I will be able to return even a fraction of what I have been given to even a fraction of those that have given it. My fear is gone now and in its place is a happiness and confidence that has been instilled deep inside by all of the incredible people who have played, and still continue to play, a part in my ongoing story.


Thoughts? Opinions?