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When Chronic Illness Makes Happy Moments With My Kids Bittersweet


Today was bittersweet. I’m not sure if it was 80 percent bitter and 20 percent sweet or vice versa. Having been chronically ill for 13 years, I can’t be coaxed into always seeing the glass half full, and I shouldn’t be expected to always see my world that way. But I’ll take what I can get.

I just got home from my 6-year-old’s field day at his school. The wet heat and my noodle-like, weak legs are not a good combination. My recent weeks have been a competition of me against life, and while I’m still going at it, I feel like I’ve been attacked from behind. But another event is down in the books. Another appearance at my son’s school that he will hopefully remember not only tomorrow or next week, but as he sees other parents pile in when I have to sit the next event out.

It’s bittersweet for me. Because as I sat there on the wet, sticky grass, my legs trembling from having stood for five minutes searching for my son in the vast field, I think of the many, many school events that lie ahead for both of my children. I imagine field days, Mother’s Days, class parties, Halloween parades, and beginning and end of year picnics. I see years of Valentine’s parties, and class holiday gatherings, and sports events, and the list just goes on and on. And while I know I’m not expected to be present for them all, it is a haunting reminder that I don’t know if I’ll make it to any. My life is a road of unknown. My capabilities from here on out can’t be planned on no matter how badly I want it.

And so I’ll focus on my son’s smile this morning, the grin that appeared as I surprised him on a whim. Because I wouldn’t dare tell him I was coming not having known for sure that my body would cooperate. I’ll remember his tight hug as he was excited to see me. And I’ll hope and pray that next year will bring more smiles and more hugs. But I’ll also remember that when I’m at home missing these times, that it’s not my fault, I’m trying my very best, and maybe next time will prove a better outcome. For now, 80 percent bitter may not be so bad after all, if it means 20 percent ends with a smile.

Getty photo by Guasor