“Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword. On one side all is correct, definite, orderly; the paths are straight, the trees regular, the sun shaded; escorted by gentlemen, protected by policemen, wedded and buried by clergymen, she has only to walk demurely from cradle to grave and no one will touch a hair of her head. But on the other side all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course. The paths wind between bogs and precipices; the trees roar and rock and fall in ruin.”
~ Virginia Woolf, ‘Harriette Wilson’, Collected Essays
I read this earlier this week and when I did, it didn’t really sink in. I was too distracted and busy with other thoughts and concerns. Something told me to go back to it and I just did. And it more than sunk in this time. I could have written it, with all that I’ve been feeling lately. My first thought was, is this exclusive to women? And the answer, I think is absolutely yes.
As women, we have the luxury of feeling protected for much of our lives. I try never to take that for granted. We owe so much to our men… our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, even our sons. Not to mention all the other men who touch our lives… And yet, there are times and situations where there is no such thing as a safety net or someone to “have our backs.” There are times when decisions have to be made and situations need to be dealt with and it’s entirely up to us to muster our courage and our strength to do what we feel is right and necessary. How we deal in those times are testaments to our character and either make us or break us.
I have witnessed some amazing accomplishments by women lately, in particular, in the case of my own dear Mother. She recently fell and injured her upper thigh/hip. This required surgery and spending time in an assisted-care facility for rehab. All during this ordeal, the “elephant in the room” which to this point has not been spoken of, but was the obvious fact that everything would have been made better somehow if my dad were still alive and here for her to lean on and offer strength and assurance. Not only would it have made a difference to her, but to my brothers and my sister and I. It’s a scary feeling to share the responsibility of the welfare of a parent. If you’ve never been in this position, lucky you. It’s daunting. I’m hugely grateful to have a big family and to have the luxury of sharing the responsibility with siblings. I can’t imagine having to deal with the decision-making alone, not to mention tending to her daily needs, both physical and emotional.
There’s way more I could say on this subject and what I’m feeling right now, but time prevents the saying. The feeling, though? That growing up is tough but that growing old is worse. But I’m concentrating on the gratitude… that my mom is finding the strength to be awesomely amazing on her path, despite the bogs and precipices.