Fragility is humbling and frightening
By Caitlin Kelly
It’s been a rough week, slowly recovering from my last radiation treatment — October 15 — and still fighting its cumulative fatigue and insane itchiness on my left breast. I was at my wits’ end, crying in public, (I almost never cry anywhere), just done.
I had a follow-up meeting with the radiation doctor, to be told I’d gained (!?) 10 pounds in six weeks and now needed blood tests to see why. This despite seeing my clothes fit more loosely and gaining compliments on my apparent weight loss.
Our GP, thankfully, saw us an hour later and did the tests; (I’m fine.)
But I started crying in his office, weary of all of it.
I apologized for being a big blubbering baby, ashamed and embarrassed by my inability to control my emotions.
“You’re normal,” he said, calmly and compassionately.
Jose, my husband, sat in the room with us, listening as I absorbed this pretty basic fact.
What, I’m not made of steel?
Kelly’s tend to be (cough) ambitious and driven; three of us won major national awards in the same month, when I was 41, my younger half-brothers then 31 and 18; I for my writing, they for business skills and for a key scientific discovery, (yes, the youngest!)
We tend to aim high, compete ferociously for as long as it takes, (each of my books, later published by major NYC houses, were rejected 25 times), and usually win, dammit!
We keep our emotions very close to the vest and keep small, tight circles of intimates. I don’t really do acquaintance.
Being weak, scared, in pain, exhausted and, even worse, letting others see us in this condition?
I’m slowly getting used to it.
Compassion for my fragility is my new oxygen, as much for myself as the gratitude I feel for that shown to me.