Everyday people across the world aimlessly pick up their phones and click on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or one of the many other social networks. There may be something they want to read in particular or they may just be bored, scrolling down their timeline. Every once in a while they’ll see something interesting or funny and tag their closest friends or family so they can share it with them.
I’ve thought a lot lately about posts that people share, painting a picture of their lives but really only skim the surface. They’ll write about the big things they want people to know but don’t give much detail on the process of getting there. This isn’t intentional, but people as a whole tend to care only about the main points and less about the details. This isn’t always a bad thing, people just get caught up in the moment and everyone is always on the go. We have busy lives and we want to get to the point, so even when we share our own stories, we minimize to get the point across.
I’ve realized that we have been doing that a lot with Griffin’s medical condition. People ask; “How’s Griffin?”, “When do you think you’ll get to bring him home?”, “How are the older kids handling this?”, “How are you and Jarryl?”. And we minimize, every single time. The same responses to different questions, “he’s getting better, slowly but surely”, “we’re okay, hanging in there”, “the kids are ready for us to be home but they’re okay”, “I’m not sure when we can come home, but hopefully soon”. And we leave it at that, and people take it and move on.
But the truth is, behind the scenes, things are a lot harder than we let on. We don’t talk about the anxiety we felt the day he had his 15 hour open heart surgery. Or the feeling of seeing him straight out of surgery and how his skin was almost purple and he was so swollen it looked like his face had been beaten with a baseball bat. I don’t talk about seeing his chest open for the first time (they couldn’t close his chest after surgery because there was too much swelling) and how it knocked me back for a second, seeing his tiny little heart and lungs in his chest, just beating away. Or how I got used to seeing it open, like it was normal, until ten day’s later when they finally closed it.
I don’t mention the multiple scars all over his body from being poked and prodded with needles. Or how we have to be the ones holding him down to be poked and prodded with those needles. We don’t talk about how we will literally sit and stare at the monitor all day to make sure his stats are where they need to be. I can’t even count on both hands how many times a nurse has told us to stop staring at the monitor because it will make us crazy, and they’re right. Because thinking about going home without a monitor to show us how he is doing fills me with so much anxiety it overwhelms me.
Mostly we don’t talk about how we’re feeling. I don’t talk about about how I cry in the shower every other day because I’m overwhelmed and it makes me feel better to let it out privately. Or how Jarryl will shut down and not talk to anyone until he can sort things out in his head on his own. We don’t tell people how the kids call us and cry because they miss us so much and how it tears us apart. Or how they’ll put us on Facetime and just sit the phone down next to them while they watch T.V. to make it seem like we’re sitting there beside them, talking to us about the show intermittently just like if we were home. Dreaming about us actually being there to hold them, laugh with them, play with them, and just be there with them.
The thing is, we’re not the only family that goes through things like this. Whether its another medical family far from home, a military deployment, or a job that takes you far away. People everyday across the world are dealing with huge issues but only share the moments they deem appropriate or enough to share. So the next time you ask someone how they’re doing, while dealing with something big, know that they’re only skimming the surface and be OK with that because maybe that’s all they can handle talking about. But know when they ask you to pray, send positive vibes, or send love, do it because that’s when they need it the most. That’s when they’re at their most vulnerable and they need all of the support they can get. It always takes a village.
“My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it” – Emery Lord