I’m Sorry Life Is So Difficult

BY SKY KHAN

sky@ilikeu.com

An article popped up on my Facebook feed recently that caused me to reflect. “I’m not a liar but Facebook sure is”, write parents Joshua and Madison Fieleke. They go on to disclose what was simultaneously going wrong with their family in a snapshot posted on Facebook that had captured all of them cheerfully smiling.

The message …we should be cautious about making assumptions when scrolling through our Facebook feed which is inevitably full of glowing status updates and beaming photos.

Soon after reading the article, someone commented on one of the photos that I had posted on Facebook of my daughter waiting for chemotherapy treatment. Amid a lot of positive comments and likes, one responder posted that he was “so sorry how difficult life is for us”.

Reading this comment, the first thing that came to my mind was, Hold On!!! What about all of the exquisitely beautiful moments that we also experienced today, this month, this year??? Followed by OMG has my online persona become the equivalent of a profile managed by Debbie Downer?

I do know this …I know that subconsciously I am balancing my reflective posts on Facebook with lighter, funnier posts. I also don’t feel the desire to share every delighted moment I have with one of my children (Because in general, if I am taking the photo, then I am not truly experiencing the moment). I do sometimes allow the random thoughts to escape my brain onto Facebookland and other times I use Facebook to crowdsource ideas. It seems I may be trying to make my Wall as realistic a reflection of my external and internal world as possible. But maybe that is not possible and maybe it’s not even welcome. Does social media require a best face forward at all times? Like on a resume?

When I reflect on and share a difficult moment in my life with Facebook friends, does that mean to some, that all of my life and my child’s is so very difficult and dire? Our life being labeled as “so difficult” seems so …permanent. So is the attempt to be honest or candid on social media just not advisable? Is this type of post too honest for Facebook?

Well, my post, which did reveal pain and longing, was actually just a moment. And whose life doesn’t have these difficult moments? What about the many joyful moments we have also experienced during a cancer diagnosis and treatment …

When Kay scored the big win at Monday hospital bingo night and took the grand prize.

When she excitedly proclaimed that she had made another new cancer friend.

When I met the child’s parent and also made a new friend.

When she mastered swallowing pills just 1 day after receiving her first lesson and received an award from Child Life, certifying her as an expert Pill Swallower. No more cherry syrup!!!

When she stood up from the wheelchair and began walking again.

When the walk turned into a dance.

When she learned how to break billiards in the hospital lounge.

When she learned how to give a compliment, and was so proud of herself that she went around giving out compliments to everyone she came across that day.

When she let another cancer patient borrow her superhero cape because he was having a great day.

When she thought to bring back a toy for her 19-month old roommate who was not feeling well and couldn’t make it to the playroom.

When we knew it would be our last night sleeping on the extra-firm mattresses of the hospital (understatement of the year).

When Kiki reunited with her two brothers for the first time in 2 weeks and they broke into a spontaneous laughing, hugging pile of arms and legs. 

When the Big Apple Circus Clowns, Martial Art Therapists, Massage Therapists, and private music teacher visited …would we have had exposure to all of these experiences had it not been for cancer?

When we checked in for an inpatient stay and it felt like winter but when we checked out it was spring.

Feelings, reactions, experiences …all of these change moment by moment. And honestly, we don’t consider our life difficult at all. No, before cancer we couldn’t have imagined the lows that our family would reach. But by attempting to open ourselves up to experience and to community, we also couldn’t have imagined the generosity and outpouring of love that our family and little girl would receive. Our life is not difficult, it is just a series of moments and events that tell a unique and complicated and beautiful story.