When I lost my dad sixteen years ago, I would have this reoccurring dream that he really wasn’t dead and that it was all a mistake. In my dreams, it was as if he was never sick. Generally, I had those dreams when I was struggling with something or a decision I had to make. Lately, I have had a similar dream where my brother is still alive. The difference is he is still sick. I know I am plagued with anxiety about decisions I am currently making. These are decisions have to be made and that is out of my control. It is how I work about these decisions that are adding stress to my already stressful life. Again, in my dreams, my brother is not dead due to some mistake but the decisions I am about to make have to do with bad choices rather than mistakes so I am not really sure how the two are even related.
The dream spelled out into detail the mistake (as to why my brother wasn’t actually dead – like some soap opera) and even provided evidence that the situation was corrected. It was evidence that my brother wasn’t dead and that there was documentation to correct the documentation that he was dead (i.e. his death certificate). The evidence suggesting that he wasn’t dead was absurd as was the documentation but I was willing to believe it. Believing it meant my brother was still alive. He still had cancer through and I was working on ways to get him treated while he was just going along with what I said. He didn’t even say a word and it seemed like he was outside of his body and he was there only physically. Actually, I felt like I was outside of my body too. I thought about this dream as I drove into work today and I started to cry because it was just another reminder that my brother was gone. As I get closer to the days where he got sick and was hospitalized, I am inundated with sadness again.
Maybe the dream is a reminder he is gone or it is his way of telling me I am not alone as I make these decisions because he is watching over me. I have this bad habit of taking on more than I can handle and not asking for help. Maybe, my brother is reaching out telling me I am not alone and I am grateful for that everything. Losing my brother and living with RA all these years have taught me, above all, to count my blessings. Before I go to bed at night, I take a moment to be grateful for everything that I should be grateful for. I am fortunate in so many ways. Despite RA and Fibro, I have my health. I suffer from a chronic illness, not a terminal one and my symptoms are managed. I have my kids who are healthy (thank God), and we have a roof over our heads and food on our table. I am employed and I can provide for my family. Compared to others who are less fortunate, I am so very blessed.
After my brother died, I also learned the importance of forgiveness. That was something that hasn’t always been easy for me. Sure, when it came to those I loved, forgiveness came immediately but for those outside that ever so important circle, I often held grudges. I had to learn that forgiving is not the same as forgetting. I had to teach myself that forgiving meant accepting that that nothing in life is ever perfect and that we can get past the things that aren’t so perfect if we are willing to make the choice. Further, forgiveness was about me and not the person that I made a choice to forgive. Forgiveness meant that I was free of the grudge and the ill that was done to me. It didn’t mean that I had to let my guard down or forget the harm that was done.
One of the best lessons I have gotten out all this is not to sweat the small stuff. That is why as I make these decisions, I have to raise my hands up in the air because some things are out of my control. I can’t dwell when accomplishing daily tasks and continuing to full time is still possible despite my limitations. I accomplish so much every day despite RA and Fibro. I am not saying that it is not challenging but I found ways to balance home and family. I have had to learn to accept help and to be grateful for it even if it doesn’t meet my standards. Sometimes, that is just what you have to do so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
My mom is leaving for Hajj on Saturday. Hajj is the Arabic term for a religious pilgrimage and Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. This is my mom’s second Hajj. My late brother had promised her that he would go with her for the second one. He was not able to fulfill his promise so she is taking this Hajj on his behalf. Islam allows persons to offer Hajj on behalf of a deceased person especially a loved one. They have to make their intention clear before they embark on their journey. This is important to my mom because I think that she sometimes feels like she failed my brother. I know that she understands that she could not control what happened but as a parent, I can relate. She feels guilty that she outlived him and she feels like she has to make up for this. My mom needs this and my siblings and I understand and support her. I know that this journey will bring her back forever changed and it will be a good thing because the mother that my siblings and I have known for the last ten months feels very empty inside and lost without purpose. I don’t know if this will make her whole again but it will at least give her a sense of purpose that she desperately needs. I have learned to make the choice to be grateful and feel blessed from my mother and I am grateful and blessed just for having her in my life.