“I want my daughter to be like you.”
“No, you don’t.”
was my reply.
Thankfully, I didn’t say it out loud. The response was blurted in my head. The speed at which the thought came astounded me.
“Well thank-you…that’s a pretty big compliment.”
is what I think came out of my mouth, as I stuffed my defiant thoughts aside.
I was in grade 11 or 12. A teacher took a moment to speak some encouraging words. To this day I value it as one of the highest compliments ever received, but I admit I took it with blaring cynicism.
I held my tongue, held the bitterness back.
“No, you don’t.” I wanted to say. “You don’t know what you are saying. You don’t want her to be like me – for to become like me she’d have to face hard things. No parent chooses my family’s ride for their kid.”
To be like me she’d see loss. I pictured the daughter he spoke of with her round, 6 year old face. I knew her name and glowing, breathless smile.
6 years old. My age when my dad died. Old enough to understand the physical happening; too young to understand the life-altering implications.
To become like me she’d navigate a blended family and major lifestyle shift. She’d cry for siblings left behind when attending a 15 year old’s funeral. She’d grieve for lost opportunity and ask big Why questions.
She would comfort friends with sick brothers and dying moms and do a horrible job at it too. She’d learn cancer terminology and sit in the ICU. Her normal would not be normal.
To become like me she would learn frustration. To become like me she’d be resilient. Because she would have to be. She’d be stubborn. She’d be faced with decisions.
She would decide how to live her life now.
At age 11. At age 14. 15. 20.
Because today is all we have.
She would decide not if to test for the cancer gene, but when.
She would have to decide what would make life count.
She would learn to recognize growth, healing, and God.
She would learn
the hard way.
But that’s not what you dump on someone who’s showing care. How does one express that without sounding bitter? I’m not sure you do.
You just smile a little, say thank-you and walk away, a little shaky inside.
And resolve again that if kids will look up to you, if parents will look up to you, you’d better make your life worth looking at.
It’s not about the experiences. What matters is how you choose to react.