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Back to the future

Grieving for a future that never would be

One of my favourite movies from my childhood was back to the future. I was thinking about it again recently when the idea for this blog came into my awareness. I remember as a kid watching that film and the magical moment when Marty McFly would eventually escape back to the future. It always seemed a terrifying prospect that he might fail to escape to the future and remain stuck in the past forever, but he always managed to scrape it by the skin of his teeth.

As I was reminiscing, a maelstrom of sadness flooded my being but why was I so sad? As I sat with it, I got my answer. You see, I needed to mourn the future because the future I had envisaged was never going to happen. I always had a rosy, optimistic image of the future. I pictured all my kids perfectly healthy. I naively believed that bad things happened to other people and that my kids were magically protected from the vagaries of life.

I will never forget the day the medical team informed myself and my wife that my youngest son’s life was now in the high risk, life-threatening category due to chronic kidney disease. I was in some form of denial up to then but deep down I knew it was coming. The day he came out of surgery with a tube protruding from his tummy to keep him alive was the day my denial ended. That day my denial changed to grief.

My son has a disease that is deemed incurable but manageable. It is something we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. Even though the disease aggressively recurred in the transplanted kidney, we are battling on as a family. This battle has been going on for many years now and in recent times things have gotten a little easier. It has been this hard-earned respite that has given me space to finally think about the hellish experience we have been through.

One day, I was driving the car and I felt the tears flowing down my cheeks. The enormity of what happened hit me like a freight train. The fact is my son has his uncle Tommy’s kidney transplanted into him keeping him artificially alive for the next number of years. He has to take very powerful immunosuppressive medication twice daily for the rest of his life to stop his body rejecting the transplanted organ which his body recognizes as a foreign object. The drugs that he takes come with risks, most notably skin cancer and other potential complications. The reality is that we have a lifetime of worry ahead of us.

As I drove my car that day, I found myself mourning the future that never would be, but it was a grieving that was necessary if I was to finally find acceptance. I have done my grieving now and don’t feel the need any more to go back to the future. There is a saying that life is what happens when you have other plans made. So true. However, is not until we fully accept what happens that we discover that adversity needn’t be our adversary. The ordeal that we have gone through as a family has forever changed me. I am sitting here writing this blog because of adversity. Adversity is my friend now and I don’t feel the need to go back to the future.

Have you found acceptance in whatever has happened to you in your life? Do you mourn the future?

With respect,

Steven

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