What We Worry about Rarely Happens

Back when I was just getting to know Lisa, I learned a lot about the hardships that face the disabled, especially during childhood. The more we talked, the more often she told me about experiences she had that would have scarred me for life or killed me outright if they’d happened to me instead of her. There are “dirty little secrets” about the way people treat disabled children that would turn your hair white AND make it fall out.

I’d always been told that 90% of the things we worry about never happen, and that’s probably true about 90% of the time. But Lisa is one of those people who worried that her mother was going to forget her at summer camp the year her mother forgot her at summer camp. Lisa’s father’s house caught fire one time, and he got himself out before he got hurt, but he left the job of getting Lisa out to the family dog, an Alaskan Husky that risked his life to drag Lisa out of the home just as the fire department arrived.

With a long list of experiences like that to deal with, is it any wonder that she’s waiting for the sky to fall on us as I ask her to live on our proceeds from my caregiver e-books? I’m not employed at a job anymore and too old and broken down to attract most employers. So we’re trying to live on the business we generate, and it scares Lisa to think that it might not work.

On the other hand, her life (and mine, for that matter) has seen a meteoric rise to safety and stability that began on the night we met. These days, I can point out to her that she is worrying about all the awful things that might happen while she sits in her dream home with a ramp-equipped minivan in the garage and an array of family and friends contributing to her safety and security.

We family caregivers all have plenty to worry about. Anything might happen, and if it does, we probably won’t be the only ones it happens to. But I tell Lisa that she hasn’t seen a real poop/propeller interface since she let me into her life. Something always comes along or happens or breaks free to put us in a position that remains the envy of most of our friends. I have faith that another such breakthrough or paradigm shift or epiphany is on its way and will arrive sometime before we spend our last dollar. And while blind faith looks a lot like craziness as we look forward, it usually looks like a pretty sound policy when viewed in hindsight.

I’ve told Lisa this a couple dozen times lately, and just now, finally, the observation is beginning to make her smile. She is, as they say in Twelve Step parlance, “coming to believe.” So we watch our lives play out a day at a time, wondering if we are really learning to fly, or falling off a skyscraper chanting “So far, so good!” on the way down.

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