I’ve never been good at being sick. I lay in bed, feeling immensely sorry for myself, and whine a lot. I also fret about all the things that I’m supposed to be doing, but can’t do because I’m sick. I know when I don’t go to the animal shelter to walk the dogs, the other volunteers have to walk even more dogs than usual. And even if I had the energy to babysit my grandkids or help my mom, I can’t risk giving them my germs. So between the misery and the guilt, my mood is very dark when I’m under the weather.
The only thing that helps is remembering my illness won’t last forever and eventually, I’ll feel better. It rarely happens as quickly as I wish, but so far, I’ve managed to recover each time I’ve been sick or injured. Bearing that in mind really does help me cope when I’m lying in bed with my stomach doing flip flops and my head pounding. “This, too, shall pass,” I tell myself, as often as I need to until I can actually believe it.
Personally, I’ve found that remembering that tough times don’t last forever is very helpful, period. When my daughter tells me her baby kept her up most of the night, I sympathize because I remember just how sleep-deprived I was when my own children were young. But then I try to cheer her up by reminding her the time will come when both she and her baby will routinely get a good night’s sleep. When I’m watching my back yard wither in the dry and unrelenting heat of a drought, I remind myself that the rains will come again, as they always do. The grief that accompanies profound loss may never disappear, but it does become more bearable with time. Life may never be the same, and certainly not the way we want it to be, but there will be moments of joy and happiness again. Sometimes, we just have to wait it out.
Recently, my husband and I had the chance to visit Sanibel Island, which had been devastated by Hurricane Ian last September. We used to love the first sight of the island as we crossed the causeway, because it was beautiful and it meant our vacation had truly started. This time, the causeway was a mess of construction, the surrounding water was a dirty brown, and much of the greenery on the island was gone. Some buildings were intact, but others had gaping holes and others had been swept away entirely. Piles of refuse, waiting for pick up, lined many of the roads.
I’m not going to lie, the devastation did make us a bit heart-sick, especially for the residents who had lost so much. But we also saws unmistakable signs of recovery. Some businesses had reopened, and some bike paths were clear. We actually ate lunch at one of our favorite restaurants which had somehow come through unscathed. And through the restaurant’s windows we could see palm trees still standing. Their palms had blown off, but they were already growing new ones. It was a timely and much-needed reminder that “this, too, shall pass…..”