Last night I attended a law school graduation ceremony. Not just any law school graduation – one of my very closest friend’s graduations. She’s been one of my absolute best friends pretty much since the day we met. We were 12. We’re almost 26 now. You can do the math. She’s essentially family. So when she asked me to attend her law school graduation, saying no never really occurred to me. How could I not go if she wanted me there? The fact is, I know how hard she’s worked to get there and I’m incredibly proud of her. Of course I am. How could I not be?
One thing I’ve realized about living with a chronic illness: it invades and taints every last aspect of your life down to your genuine pride in your friends’ accomplishments. As I sat there and listened to the keynote speech about all the things the graduates could achieve, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that my lupus and fibromyalgia took away my own professional degree. There is no longer a med school graduation in my future (despite the fact that I’m still paying loans for the time I was in med school). I wonder if that reality is ever going to stop stinging…
It can be so hard to watch as other people’s lives move forward while mine seems to be stagnant. It isn’t, not really, since I do have a job. But it makes me irritatingly repetitive as I try to emphasize the couple of impressive things about my job because it feels so inadequate compared to what other people in my life are achieving as their lives move forward and I’m stuck in a regressed career time point that I thought I was well beyond. One, in fact, that I specifically didn’t want and pointedly moved away from.
Of course, I didn’t say any of that. I hid it as well as I possibly could. I didn’t want my pain to take away from her big day. That wouldn’t be fair to her. I couldn’t bear the idea of her worrying about my sadness at the loss of my life plans when she should be celebrating the accomplishment of hers. There’s no reason why her mind would drift to the idea that i would be anything but happy for her, after all. And while it is inarguably not fair for me to have to hide my true feelings either, I felt it was the lesser of two evils.
Alas – (Ok so maybe that word choice is a little excessively melodramatic, so sue me.) – this is a problem that never really goes away as the lives of the healthy tick ever forward while we sit around in some, inaptly named as it is rather slowly sinking, quicksand.