It's four years since I spent a hot day pulling the garden outside the northern end of the house to bits: the shrubs had grown old and woody and straggly, and they had been planted in accordance to a plan drawn up by a no-longer-friend, and I wanted to renew it. I got to the last couple of shrubs but couldn't get them out, so after struggling for too long, I gave up. And had a stroke. Each year since then, I have tried to tidy that garden up in advance of Stroke Day, and so again today. It's all heavily mulched now that we have a mulcher, so even the biggest weeds come out easily. The garden is a delight at the moment, as the tuis fly in all through the day to drink nectar from the harakeke flowers. I bought a feeder from the Tiritiri Matangi trust, and placed it in amongst the harakeke in the hopes that the tui will visit all year round, but they don't seem to have noticed it yet. One must have at some point today, because the sugar water level had dropped considerably, but I haven't seen one even look at it.
|My stroke garden today|
Yesterday I felt fortunate to have survived the stroke, and felt a need to give back to the world. I have been looking for some time for some kind of volunteer work that 1) doesn't require consistent regularity, because I do still have bad days when I am pretty non-functional; and 2) doesn't require too much personal interaction as conversation, especially with strangers, exhausts me and takes another day to recover from. Even having a lot of people around me, talking, without me being part of the conversations, exhausts me - I can't seem to stop my brain from trying to make sense of all the words in the air. So when I read that the age for donating blood for the first time had been raised to 70, I thought, perfect! I can give, but could just sit and read or even sleep! But no. They won't have my blood. Not because there's anything wrong with my blood, but because I have had a stroke, and 'we wouldn't want anything to happen to you'.
During this time of covid, there have been many hurtful things said. I may well have said things that have hurt others. The internet is full of hateful and hate-filled words, that in the main I have shrugged off, because they weren't said by people who knew me. The words that have hurt me most, have been by three people who did know me, albeit only as acquaintances. One told me, during our first lockdown in 2020, in a Facebook discussion, that people like me have had our lives and should shut up and not want lockdowns because other people should be allowed to live their lives without worrying about old and sick people, and her child had had his swimming lessons cancelled and it wasn't fair. Our acquaintanceship had been very superficial. Except for time a couple months earlier, when she poured out her feelings and deep depression to me when I saw her and asked if she was ok. Apparently that hour and half of my life and listening ear was worth shit. I know she has mental health issues, and have tried to forgive her for her lack of compassion, because I have suffered bouts of depression and anxiety for 54 years and know what it's like. But I haven't managed to let go of the ache from that metaphorical kick in the teeth yet.
The other occasions have been more recently when I was told, in a very kindly manner, by a woman I had met once, in another Facebook discussion, that if I am afraid of covid, I should just stay home until I'm not afraid any more. Because fear is more dangerous than a deadly disease that targets people like me (old and broken). I could get all my food and everything delivered, and could just isolate myself, because, again, other people have the right to live freely, and unencumbered by any restrictions or mandates. Many chimed in with the claims that they shouldn't have to have vaccines, or have to wear masks, or even have to grant me a single metre of personal space, because the pandemic isn't real, and/or covid isn't nearly as bad as 'they' make out, and/or vaccinations don't work, and/or masks don't work, and, I guess, why wouldn't I want random strangers getting right up in my face? After all, if I'm old (70) and at risk (diabetes, stroke) then I should just stay home, so others aren't inconvenienced. The third was a trauma therapist I know who also just kept repeating the idea that the 'fear and trauma' was my problem, that covid is just a thing we will all get eventually, and that we should just get on with living life - apparently being afraid of catching a disease because of being a person at higher risk is a neurotic reaction to be fixed, rather than something to be ameliorated by being careful. I think that the kind people who gently remonstrate with me, telling me that I should be kind to people who don't want to do anything that might inconvenience themselves (mask wearing, keeping their distance). So, I guess you will have guessed by now, that I am actually astonished and angry and very hurt by the people who think I am of no value to society, that I am worthless.
I don't know why I have reacted this way, because worthless is an adjective I have ascribed to myself most of my life, so I should expect others to feel that way too. I guess I just thought that because everyone else is so much more worthy than me, that they would be kinder.
I need to focus on the few people who have shown that they care. The small handful of special people who have 'checked in on the elderly'. The three who have offered to do shopping for me. The ones who have trusted me with their own problems as well as listening to my fears and heartaches. They are few, but they are very special, and will be remembered always with love.
I wrote most of this yesterday, but didn't want to post until today, because despite trying hard to be a good atheist and skeptic, I still find myself affected by superstition and remnants of religion: It's 'bad luck', or some god or other might strike me down for daring to presume I'd last the night.
But here I am! And I awoke to the news that my Auckland boy will be home on Thursday - my eyes leaked a bit at that.