Anyway, I've been thinking about writing this post for quite a while, and now I've finally decided to do it, although I might take it down sometime because it is pretty personal and, I must admit, hard to share.
I'm warning you, this is only partly a Lessons of Jamaa, it's mostly story about something that happened to me in real life.
Well, about the title. You know the things that happen to Anyone Else? There are lots of them, different for each person, because of course, when one happens to you (and it does, because for other people YOU are anyone else) it stops being something that happens to everyone else and it simply becomes something that happened to you, or a fact about your life.
Some of them are pretty good. Winning the lottery, becoming famous, winning a contest/prize... (Of course, these things have it's pros and its cons, and might not be as fantastic as they seem, but that's another topic.)
But some of them are really bad. Having a car/plane/train/etc accident. Living in serious poverty. Committing suicide.
And the thing they have in common is happen to Anyone Else. You know about them, you've seen them happen around you or heard of them, but often you don't think of them happening to you as probable, maybe not even possible.
Well, I hope you know what I mean because I don't know if I am explaining myself well.
And now, a pretty personal story about how one of these things happened to me. Sorry if it gets long or complicated, although I'll try to keep it simple, this is kinda hard for me to write.
Well, I guess I've always been a pretty cheerful person, most of the time. Both on AJ and in real life, I tried to be alway happy. Well, I had my bad days, like everyone. Whenever I heard someone talk about anxiety or depression, I'd think: "Wow, that must be hard. But why can't just people be happy all the time?"
Yes, Old MCB, that would great, but sometimes you just can't help being sad. Sometime it's just feeling low for a while, but sometimes sadness lasts much longer and can come with another bunch of emotions and problems. Sometimes you simply don't know why you feel that way. That is ok. (Although most of the time there are reasons, even if you find it hard to identify them.) But sometimes, an event or a series of events in your life can cause them. That is what happened to me.
Well, I think none of you, wether you know me from AJ or not, know this, but when I was nine years old (I'm fourteen now. Wow, time flies) my mother got diagnosed with a brain tumour. In case you don't know what a tumour is, its sort of a lump that forms when the balance of cell death and growth is disturbed. It can be benign, in which case it is almost always removed and causes little or no trouble, or it can be malignant (cancerous.) (I'm sorry if I'm not getting the medical details right.)
The one my mother had was cancerous, and although I didn't know at the time, it was one of the most aggressive brain tumours that you can get, it had already grown quite a lot, and the average time of survival for it was about a year and a half.
I obviously was too young to understand all this. I'm not going to go into much detail about the following years, but just so you get the idea, she had surgery twice, relapsed three times and had radiotherapy and chemotherapy more times that I can count.
And I'll have you know, she is the strongest person I have ever met. Knowing how serious it all actually was, she managed to keep a smile on her face, be optimistic and make sure me and my two siblings were happy and hopeful too. How somebody can manage to do that with the terrible weight of having cancer, I will never know, but I am so grateful to her for making those years as normal and as happy as possible for my family.
But unfortunately, fighting cancer doesn't entirely depend on willpower and optimism. (Although believe me, it plays a HUGE part and even when you think there's no hope, you need to stay optimistic. This applies to any illness or hardship in life.) Sadly, sometime around October 2014 we found out that the tumour had yet again returned. I remember that was the time when I actually realised how serious the situation was. According to my parents, she had to have some really strong chemotherapy and it was pretty much our last hope.
From that day onwards, things started to get really tough. The tumour was starting to affect her brain, and it prevented her arms and legs from working properly. Believe me, it's heartbreaking to see the strongest person you know, the one who has always protected you, so weak and helpless. First it was falling over in unexpected moments, then having to use a wheelchair...
Things kept on like that for a few months. And they got worse. She started losing weight, and the tumour was affecting her brain in a terribly scary way. I can't give details because I don't know how the brain works, but by spreading to different areas, her memory and even her mood were affected. I remember coming home from school and seeing her crying violently for long periods of time, something she'd never done in front of me and my siblings before. I just couldn't believe that was my mom, the bravest person ever. But of course, it wasn't her fault. It was even worse when she started losing her memory. She'd forget things the doctors had said, and I'll never remember the time when she asked me if I'd had fun skateboarding with my friends. I was too shocked to tell her that I don't skate and it was my sister the one who'd been out with her friends.
And one day, in April, my father told me what I subconsciously knew but didn't want to admit: She was terminal. That was the worst day of my life. I can't use words to describe how I felt. It was as if I'd never be happy again. Everything was completely upside down. For the following days, I must admit I cried myself to sleep. Everything that I'd always enjoy seemed totally worthless. Writing, drawing, playing guitar, soccer, mucking around at school with my friends, school itself... Nothing felt worth doing and all I could do i was stand around like a ghost.
As you might imagine, the following month was horrible. I simply couldn't accept that my mother was dying. It seemed unreal. Paramedics in and out of the house all the time, visitors, the house full of medicine and things for disabled people... Even worse was when my father tried to tell my mother what was going to happen. She obviously was shocked and terrified, but because she was having trouble with her memory she forgot and when she was told again she had to go through it again. I think nobody should have to die like that. I remember my father telling us at random moments that he'd told her again, and she wanted to see us. I was sad and anxious all the time, and I couldn't stand having no news about her while I was at school so I'd sneak out my phone out in class (something I'd never done before) to ask my father how she was. But after a few weeks she seemed to be at peace with it. Another week, and she seemed to be in some sort of coma. A few days more, and she died peacefully, without pain, with my father next to her, on a quiet Saturday morning,
I cannot put into words the feeling that you get when you see the woman that has brought you to this world dead. I knew she hadn't been herself those last weeks, and the corpse looked impossibly thin and weak. Of course, that whole weekend was crazy. I had more text messages that I've ever had, from people who I hadn't spoken with in years, saying they were sorry. I don't want to go into details about those days.
So now it has been about six months since my mother died. Yes, I thought that was something that could only happen to Anyone Else. But of course, I'm Anyone Else for Everyone Else. But that doesn't mean they don't care. It's unbelievable how much support and kindness my family has received from friends, relatives and just everyone.
So yes, this is today's lesson: Remember, anything can happen to anyone, anytime. But if it happens to be you, wether it's something good or bad people will support you, and of course, you will support anyone else who needs it (hopefully).
And I just want you to know: My mother, whose name I can't put here because of privacy reasons, was and amazing woman, always strong, optimistic and ready to help. She is probably the most genuinely good person I've met, and she will never be forgotten. You, reading this, probably never knew her and sadly never will, but still I want you to know that.
I suppose I'm alright now. It's been a really tough two years, but thanks to my friends and family I'm okay. Of course, it still affects me a lot. Somehow my concentration is suffering a lot, both at school and just doing ordinary stuff, and I've had and still have anxiety, which in my case has mostly been hypochondriasis or illness anxiety disorder.
But that's another story.
Well, this blog has been pretty inactive, but I guess I'm still gonna post this. And whoever you are: Remember every day is a gift and you should enjoy it. Help and support people and let them help and support you. After all, you might not know what to do about things that happen to Anyone Else, but to them anything that happens and any act of kindness means the world. And remember: You are Anyone Else too, but that doesn't mean you are worse than others.
Thanks for reading, everyone, and thanks in advance for supporting Anyone Else, because it is also me, and you, and everyone, wether you know them or not.