“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood”
In My Blood, by Sean Mendes is like my anthem these days. My ANTHEM.
For a long time, I’ve been wondering…Why can’t I just give up? And when I say “give up” I don’t necessarily mean stop living. I mean, Why can’t I stop caring? Why can’t I stop fighting? Why does anything flipping matter to me at all anymore?
Believe me, I have TRIED giving up. Once upon a very dark time, I stood on the edge of the bridge overlooking an ice-cold, black river, just to ask myself the question…Could I? Would I? Am I brave enough? Desperate enough? Tired enough? If that freaks you out, don’t worry. I knew the answer before I stood there. But for some reason, I still had to ask.
Yet, I have tried giving up other things. I have given up praying. Given up eating. Given up expecting anything good or anything at all really. I have given up hope. I have given up striving. Given up loving. Given up hating. Given up dreaming.
It isn’t in my blood.
I sat across the table from my mother the other night. She listened to my “problems” because she’s my mom and that’s what good moms do. Mostly she just listened. But she also reminded me of truth. And she did her best to put things in perspective. And she laughed – not in the way a person laughs at you but in that way a person helps you to laugh at yourself. It works because I know she sees me and gets me and loves me for who I am.
This woman sitting across the table from me gave birth to me at 17. Became a single mom (with a deadbeat ex) at 19. She worked two jobs while my stepfather battled an aggressive form of M.S. and then she buried him at 29; my baby brother was two. About two years later I started my rebellious stay-out-all-night-get-in-fights-at-school-skip-class-run-away-from-home-try-all-the-terrible-things teenage years. And yet she loved me and my friends and was even nice to all my crazy boyfriends (and some were seriously crazy). She took care of her parents into their old age. And in the last 10 years she has buried both her mother and father, her brother, her mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law….and her 32 year old son.
And those are just the broad strokes.
This woman sitting across the table from me carries on. She works and quilts for her grandkids and visits her aunt in the nursing home and FaceTime’s her grandson who moved away and watches for bears and picks up feathers off the ground because they remind her that my brother is always with us. And she sits and listens to me.
She hasn’t given up. Because she is strong and hard-working and beautiful and wise and still finds beauty in this world. And, perhaps, most of all, because she still has people to love, she still has people who love her, who need her, and she still has a God who holds them all. Just like her mother before her – who knit blankets and cooked meals for us when her hands were crooked with arthritis and walking snatched her breath away – giving up isn’t in her blood. And that blood runs through my veins.
Sometimes I feel like giving up. I’ve tried.
But it isn’t in my blood.
© Nichole Q. Perreault