Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Strength has nothing to do with it.

"Stay strong". It's the words we say when we know someone is suffering through an especially difficult time in their lives. When we know no other words will do "Stay strong" seems like a pretty safe alternative to all the stupid, fumbling, things that could pop out of our mouths at any given, panic stricken moment. I say panic stricken because when people hear others stories of difficult adversity the need to say something, anything, is overwhelming, and sometimes what we hear ourselves say is ridiculous. Some people never know that what they just said was completely insensitive, and others realize it the minute it pops out of their mouths; and then the blushing and fumbling just becomes more evident and uncomfortable for both parties.

I admit that I've done it to people. Said something because I felt it was expected and knew the moment it popped out of my mouth it was the wrong thing to say. And recently I've had it happen to me. While telling Puck's story I have had the typical responses of "he'll be fine, don't worry" to things like "it could be worse". But the most generic response seems to be "stay strong". So I started to think about that phrase...that "advice" if you will. And as much as I understand it's intent it just seems kinda...obvious.

What else am I supposed to do? Collapsing into a puddle of tears, while rocking in a fetal position and screaming why at my ceiling isn't truly a viable alternative. This journey isn't about "staying strong", it's about finding hope. It's hope that keeps me going from day to day. It's hope that gets me through to the next hour. My strength hasn't got a damn thing to do with it. I'm no stronger than any other mother in this type of situation. I do what I have to do because I HAVE to do it. But my "apparent strength" through the tough times is truly born from hope, not from experience, and not from sheer will. I have hope. And through the survival of this hope, I have found my own survival, and I will find the strength so many people say I should keep.

"Stay strong" should be amended to "Keep hope". And I will. I am.


Anonymous said...

well said Carrie...


Audrey said...

Hello, I came over to your blog by chance and I wanted to say that my heart goes out to you. My 3rd daughter needed open heart surgery when she was 3 months old. That was 2 years ago and she is thriving now. I found the Children's Hospital to be fantastic and the cardiologists and surgeons to be so knowledgeable and caring. Your last post is so true. As mothers we HAVE to keep going and being strong. People would tell me to 'keep strong' and all I kept thinking was 'I am so weak...I don't think I can'. But I did stay strong because I had to. You are a great writer. I agree that "Keep Hope" articulates what should be said.

carrie said...

Hello Aundrey.

Thanks for posting your comment and sharing your story with me. Anytime I get to learn about another baby who has survived open heart surgery and come out the other side growing and thriving it gives me a little more hope. This journey can definitely be overwhelming and seem endless at times. I too have thought that I couldnt possibly keep going, that I can't survive another second in such circumstances. But of course I know I have no other choice.

I am so glad to hear your daughter is doing well. I hope you never have to face such unspeakable uncertainity ever again.

So thank you again for commenting and making my hope shine a little brighter.

Audrey said...

Hi Carrie,
I don't know if you want to read about what our little Sophia went through with her surgery. I was not as eloquent with my writing as you are. My blog address is and she was born in June 2008 and her surgery was in Sept 2008. I know it helped me when I read about other people's journeys.
Take care,

carrie said...

Thanks so much. I will definitely drop by and read your blogs. I have been trying to find others blogs about their journeys through CHD and it's surprisingly difficult.

Thanks again!