I learned a humiliating fact about myself a couple of days ago. I’m weaker than my girlfriend.
I’ve always considered myself stronger than I looked, even now, so although I’ve lost around 90 lbs from my usual weight I felt like my core strength was still in there somewhere, even if it were hiding pretty deep down.
So when Jamie and I went to the store the other day to buy lots of heavy things I knew it was my time to shine. We got cans of dog food, a gallon of tea, several other big containers of orange juice and lemonade, plus heavy glass bottles of her kombucha. We also got a clothes hamper, which was the perfect holder for all of these very heavy things.
Walking to the car I dreaded loading that hamper into the car and I knew there was no way Jamie, all 5 foot 3 or whatever, would be able to do it, and so I gave myself a silent pep talk on the slow walk down the lot.
When the time came I hoisted that behemoth of a hamper out of the cart and into the back of her SUV, straining my shoulders, but getting it successfully moved. It must’ve weighed 600 lbs if it weighed a pound. Or maybe it was more like 40 pounds, but whatever it was would’ve been too much for any woman and many normal men. But I’d done it.
I took some solace in feeling the strain of my shoulder muscles for the first time in quite a long time, and some pride in knowing that although that load was heavy, I didn’t for a second show any indication that I had struggled with it – not that I had.
On the drive home I had a small bit of panic realizing that I’d have to find some way to get that same beast out of the car and into the house without the help of a cart. I even thought about using my dolly, but I realized that would be a bit extreme, and that I could simply make multiple trips with the stuff from the hamper instead.
We got to my house and I went and unlocked the door and mentally prepared the route, much like I imagine the Amish do when they’re moving a house on those big logs, when I turn to see a mortifying sight: Jamie’s carrying the hamper with all the stuff in it with no real problems.
“Are you serious?!?” I said, trying not to sound too shrill after seeing my manliness effortlessly trampled in front of me.
“Well, I thought we could carry it together,” she said after setting it down with one handle facing toward me in sort of a pity offering. I took her offer, convincing myself that it surely was too much to handle on her own, even though it clearly wasn’t, and we got the hamper into the house. I lay down for a second to catch my breath and she merrily unloaded the heavy goods.
It’s hard to give up basic man traits like “strong” or “capable” or “independent” but I’ve had to come to those realizations more and more lately. Even though my tests say that my cancer is shrinking and my blood work is better, the chemo – or something – has kept me low on energy and low on stamina for a while now and it doesn’t seem to be getting better too quickly.
I went on a little roller coaster ride of emotions that day that I didn’t expect, but maybe I should prepare myself for more of the same in the future just in case.
I had a lot of plans just in the past few weeks, plans that would’ve been fun and things that nothing could’ve stopped me from doing in years past. But I’ve done almost none of those plans and I just haven’t even felt like pretending.
I’ve been asked if I’m depressed, but I’m really not. It’s just that when you feel truly bad it takes away the fun from everything. It doesn’t, however, take away the joy. My joy comes from knowing that God is with me in every step of this, no matter how things turn out.
But fun is a nice thing to have and I’m trying to look harder for it lately, even in little things like looking at a scale model car instead of the real thing, or in simply lying on a bench outside my house and looking at the sky instead of being out doing something active under that same sky.
Through some changes in my meds I’m looking forward to better days ahead, days when I’ll feel more like my old self, or maybe some new improved version of myself, but either way I hope it’s a better version than the sleepy, weak, M.I.A. version I’ve been working with lately. Perhaps I need to force myself to pogo?
By Dave Taylor