This situation felt way too familiar. Her face is almost a copy of the one that started this all, but there are some differences. But we found ourselves sitting on the couch, her curled up beneath a blanket and me wondering what I could do to change anything about this. I know what needs to happen and fear and doubt keep entering the plot to challenge that clear choice.
Susie has never gotten angry about my having not been around much for her growing up. She gets that I’m the weird Uncle who has spent most of the last year getting my own help from her grandmother. At this moment, she doesn’t care about that. She’s hurt because she can’t decide how to spend her time with me.
Summer plans need to be made for her. 15 year olds who like camp and arts programs has to at least fill out some paperwork letting people know she is interested in a spot. Only she worries that she’ll be paddling a canoe and I’ll be leaving the house for a final time.
This isn’t the way life should be for her, or anyone else around me. It’s okay to change dinner plans with others, they can’t give up on their lives to sit around watching mine slow.
This is where the arguments come into play. It’s the hardest part of watching others as they watch me. This family and I did this once before with a different person, that Susie look-a-like. Weeks sitting at a bedside waiting for something to change.
I’ve always been surrounded by strong women. (maybe not always, but I don’t care to discuss the ex.) That extra set of voices helped turn me into someone who has no issues learning to make a quilt or listen to boy bands or even worse, know all about various artsy things. Even dressing up like a giant kangaroo for a children’s play. Some of that was me, but some of it was them making sure I felt comfortable enjoying those activities.
Some fights are worth having. I know if the situation were reversed, it would be me stopping the world and waiting for as long as life presented the opportunity. Adults make those choices, teenagers shouldn’t have to. One of life’s harsh realities we try to protect everyone else from.
While we sat on the couch, Susie admitted she was very angry at me. She wanted to hit me and I let her. A few of those punches hurt. Words turned into just fragments when the throat gave way to tears.
Growing up is hard enough. Some fights are worth it.
Other times it’s better to just sit there and take the punches to help someone else out.
I’m glad she got angry. I’m proud she wanted to deal with it.
And I’m scared of how this will hurt her in the future when I won’t be around.