Humans are social animals. From a young age we seek to form relationships and join groups. I couldn't wait to become a Brownie, where I could have a cool little brown uniform and make a jewelry box for my mom out of a cigar box, macaroni and green felt. Later it was about joining a dance class or being a 7th grade cheerleader. In high school, it is all about clubs, drama club, speech club, student council and in my high school, the Ugly club. I was thrilled to become a member of the GTB's, which was a social club that my boyfriend at the time belonged to. As adults we join book clubs, civitan clubs, the Jr. Leauge and if we can afford it, country clubs. Clubs are a part of our daily lives. So much so that we often use the phrase "join the club" when someone may be describing experiences that we've already had.
Life gives us membership to clubs we don't want to be in. When my sister died in a car accident in 1978, I suddenly found myself a member of the Becoming an Only Child club. In 1979 and again in 1981 I became a two time member of the Victims of a Violent Crime club. In 1996, the Divorced an Alcoholic club and in 1999 the My Mom Died club. My point is, until you've experienced certain things, you can never truly understand the impact events can have in our individual lives. I have several friends who are also members of the My Mom Died club and all of us share a unique understanding of the special grief that losing your mother means. I am now in the initiation process of becoming a lifetime member of a new club that I did not want membership in. Dear friends of mine have cared for their loved ones while they were dying of cancer or other horrible diseases. I felt empathy for them and tried to be supportive and understanding of their experiences, but I truly had no idea of the horrors and hardships they endured.
Today was a tough day. I bet daddy didn't eat a full cup of food today. He is in pain, can't walk but a few steps before he is gasping for air like a marathon runner in the last mile, is using a potty chair in the den because the short trip to the bathroom is too much for him. Misery is his constant companion as despair is becoming mine. Seeing a loved one uncomfortable and not being able to help them will drain your very soul and until you have walked this path, you cannot begin to understand the pain it causes. I have renewed sympathy and respect for my friends and others I don't even know who have experienced this difficult part of life. Meanwhile, I am joining the club.