September 2013, I began one of the most challenging, scariest and gratitude filled two weeks of my life. I literally watched my daughter, 23, fight for her life. There was one moment during those two weeks that she was in her ninth CT Scan with the head of Radiology, the head of ICU, the head of Cardiology and the head of General Surgery….and all I could do was wait.
The first time I left the hospital was 38 hours after she collapsed; post emergency surgery, the hospital wouldn’t allow us to stay with her after visiting hours. Once her oxygen saturation levels dropped, two nights in a row, and her health was declining we didn’t leave the hospital again until she did, two weeks later. Matt & I did shifts so that someone was always there with her. I did the day/evenings and he did the evening/nights.
Matt was my rock. I felt helpless just watching her, knowing that no matter how many times I kissed her head or held her hand or got her water or talked her through the emotional and physical pain that it was not going to help her heal her body.
The. Most. Helpless. Feeling. In. The. World.
While in her presence I remember being strong, taking notes when doctors came by the room, asking questions because Em was so drugged up on morphine that, even to this day, she has a hard time remembering all the details. She didn’t even realize how close to death she came until our family doctor said, “you almost died” at a follow up appointment a few weeks after getting out of the hospital. I was a momma bear watching over her cub. The minute that the hospital doors opened and fresh air hit my face, tears began to roll down my cheeks and by the time I made it to the truck I was one hot mess. Matt had to make the calls to keep the family informed because I couldn’t speak through the tears and I didn’t want to break down when I needed to be strong for her.
As the two weeks played out there were many offers of assistance and in the beginning I refused the help thinking I could handle it. Mostly, I didn’t want to burden anyone. There were offers of house cleaning, meal preparation, walking the dogs, looking after our son, massages and to bring Em’s favorite green Jell-o with no whip cream. “No, no, it’s ok – we’ve got things covered but thank you!” I’d say. As the days got tougher I had to surrender. I needed help. I could no longer deny it. I let a couple people in.
When she was released from the hospital and days of chaos turned into quiet moments of recovery at home I was able to see a lesson, with hind sight clarity. I was stealing the joy of my friends by declining their offers of assistance. Stealing the joy of others was the last thing I wanted to do! Why do we find it difficult to accept gifts of kindness from others? We don’t want to burden or trouble others with our problems. Everyone has something going on in their lives.
I know that if I had a friend in a similar situation I would be first in line to help! Helping would bring me joy and release some of her responsibility while she did what she needed to do. If the help was refused I would feel helpless and wish there was something I could do to make life easier for her. And so I realized that I was stealing their joy. They weren’t offering their help out of obligation. They WANTED to help me. This doesn’t just happen in these dire situations. I bet we are denying offers of assistance from others on a weekly basis.
People are trying to love us, maybe we consider letting them. Imagine what a beautiful world we would live in if gratitude and acceptance were openly shared. If we spent less time denying offers of assistance and accepted help in our times of need. Even for the simple things. When someone offers me help today, I try to remember these two weeks where I didn’t have control over things, felt a pull to surrender and let the kindness of others help me through the roughest two weeks of my life. I am grateful for every moment, every gesture and the lessons I learned in joy, acceptance and surrender while my daughter lay fighting for her life.
I’ve spent the last two and a half years diving into deep self-worth work, finding beauty in the simple things, making my biggest dreams come true, practicing gratitude and engaging with my soul goals from a space of vulnerability and authenticity. I was born planning & organizing. I feel passionate about inspiring others to find their authentic selves through soulful, creative & joy filled events and meditation. I am the curator of SHIFT: More Happiness, Joy & Play and SHIFT: A Soulful Celebration. MelshaShea.com