Today I had coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in close to a month. We have a friendship that started in the strangest of ways. We train with the same personal trainer at the gym and our conversation time would be in the crossover – the five to ten minutes we would sometimes have between sessions. She would be finishing up her session and I would be warming up for mine or vice versa, side by side on cardio machines as we had a quick chat before one of us would be called away for an hour of torture.
What did we talk about? Our trainer, naturally. He always gave us something to gripe or laugh about. We’d talk about the latest tv shows, the weather, holidays and our families. Lately there hasn’t been much opportunity to talk. She’s been cancelling her workouts to look after her ailing husband. I’ve been cancelling because of family (two funerals in 3 weeks).
Today we talked about everything. She talked about her experiences dealing with her husband and the various doctors involved with his treatment. She told me how she has come to terms with the fact that life will not get any better for him and that at some point she will lose him. She told me of the good days and of the bad ones. Today was a good day and she was making the most of it. I talked about my family and the decisions we were now facing regarding our business. I talked of the busyness of my life, the work waiting for me at home and my writing.
She told me the doctors told her it was time to give herself permission to let go. To let go of treatments that weren’t working, to let go of numerous trips to the hospital that weren’t needed, to let go of the hope that more could be done. They gave her permission to move on to the next stage, to prepare. She felt relieved that the doctors had given her something she didn’t know how to ask for. She told me to give myself permission to take time for me. I thought that I did that, but she said I didn’t take enough time. Give yourself one day a week, she said. Write. Do what you want to do for that entire day. The days you can attack the growing pile in your office, the laundry and the vacuuming.
Sometimes I think we need someone to tell us that what we want to do is okay. It’s allowed. When I was younger, my interests were very different to what they are now. I kept a fairly tidy house, the laundry was always done and my gardens were well maintained. Today, I tidy up when I can, the laundry is folded – ironing is another story, and my gardens are full of weeds. My office is stacked with papers demanding attention. My sixth or seventh edition of my novel is waiting for the final reading before publishing.