“I am not my helplessness”

She’s lying on the bed, wires and tubes attached to her body. She’s smiling at us, but it’s a strained smile. A painful one. She’s trying to be strong for us. And there’s nothing I can do to help her. This is a battle I can’t help her with.

The worst feeling, for me, is seeing bad things happen to the people I care about and not being able to do anything about it. Not being able to save them. At most I can empathize with them, feel their pain but not be able to take it away. When my grandmother died of leukemia, I felt the full impact of my helplessness. All I could do was be there for her, pray for her, but none of it helped. I still look back and wonder if I could have done anything, but cancer is internal. Her struggle was internal. Maybe I could have given her more will to fight. Maybe I could have said the right words to give her hope, but I didn’t have them. I didn’t know what to say.

I just returned her painful smile with a painful smile of my own. A painful and helpless one.

Even now, when my friends and family come to me for support, I feel awful. I wish I could have the words that can make their pain go away. I wish I knew what to do to make them better. I want them to know that I’m always there for them, but I can’t change things that are out of my hands. No matter how hard I try.

I don’t know how to make things better. I don’t know if I can make things better. But I can be there for support. And I’m so sorry that’s all I can offer.

I am trying to accept that things are out of my control, but it’s hard. It’s hard not to feel helpless.