I have had to change plans this weekend. My son has been doing well, and I had made plans to go to reunion of 30 year friendships in another city, where we gather and talk and cry together, pray and eat, and talk some more. We have all been eager to see each other… we had our first meet-up last summer at my mother’s 80th birthday party, and determined to not let time separate us again. We met up again in January, and were trying for this Easter weekend. However, my son has taken a dip and it seems unsafe for me to leave him. So, I have had to cancel the get- together, since the few of us planning to meet don’t want to leave anyone out. We will try again when my son seems stable again, and then we’ll begin juggling everyone’s schedule…and do our best to make it happen when we can.
It’s disappointing. It’s something that is in my life just for me. There aren’t many of those. But, when a mentally-ill person is in your life whose well-being relies on you, you don’t have the freedoms you might otherwise have. When you see symptoms the symptoms aren’t a sore throat you can see with a flashlight, or a runny nose or a rash. The symptoms are behaviors. And like it or not, you find yourself doing a quick assessment of behaviors every day and throughout the day. Loved ones and those who care will check in and ask regularly, “How’s Caleb?”….and they aren’t really asking if his fifty yard dash time has improved, or whether he got sore working out yesterday. They’re asking how his behavior appears, or more to the point, how is his frame of mind?
It’s part of life. For him, for me and for everyone who lives close to us.
And if I was rigid in my expectations, I would not handle these disappointing turns in the road easily. I’ve known people who are thrown for a loop because their plans to go to the mall were upset by rain. But there’s no place for high expectation and hard falls over changed plans in the lives of families with mental illness among them. Flexibility is key. Peace is key. Being able to ‘go with the flow’ whatever the flow may be…..is key. There are far more upsetting things out there than giving up a fun get-together. And I believe I’ll look at the silver lining and be glad for the peace that is here, now. I’ll use the time to get more work done and to spend some time with my son. And be glad for all the times he survived his attempts on his life, and that he is actually here to enjoy.
Life is to be lived, however we go about it…one day at a time.
And don’t forget the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. (I cannot change this.) The courage to change the things I can. (I can change my attitude for the better.) And the wisdom to know the difference.