Is being sick and feeling loved better than being well and feeling alone?

Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash

There’s a woman who lives down the street (let’s call her Ida here on the public interwebs, for what it’s worth)…

Every morning (and at several other times throughout the day), she sits meditatively on her porch welcoming everyone who walks by. She’s like royalty on our street, with passers-by paying their respects in small talk (as sweet as she is, sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly introverted, I walk my dog the other way so as to bypass the formalities, I hate to admit).

For this last year that we’ve lived here on this street, she’s had her daughter and 4–5 grandkids living with her. After getting to know them, I learned that Ida had been battling cancer and they were there to provide support and whatnot while her daughter’s husband remained in Ireland working as a computer programmer.

The house was always buzzing with kids as grandma Ida (and grandpa, sometimes) sat on the porch, taking in the fresh outdoor air and bathing in the warm frenzy of their grandkids.

This last week, I learned that Ida’s daughter and the grandkids were moving to LA. Her husband got a job there and apparently, Ida was making a full recovery.

Just today, I walked by to see Ida perched on her rocking chair where she’s usually stationed. I made the mention (I’m really bad at small talk), “Kinda quiet with the kiddos not around, huh?” (see what I mean?) and I noticed she was sobbing (no, I don’t think I made her cry — she seemed to be crying already).

“Yes, it’s horrible… Just struggling through it here.”

I felt that pain, like a dagger in my heart. There was nothing I could say to make it better.

“Well, if you need anything, don’t hesitate to let us know, Ida.” And after a few more words and a nod goodbye, I walked on as she wiped tears away from her weathered cheeks.


This little exchange with Ida made me wonder…

Maybe the doctors said she was ‘well’, but I think, right now, she’d probably rather choose cancer and the grandkids instead of being ‘well’ without them.

Kinda made me realize how subjective ‘wellness’ actually is. Because when your heart hurts, who cares about the rest of the body, right?