When I was in the ICU, the one question I couldn’t get away from, the one that terrified me more than “Am I dying?” was “Am I going to become a burden at home?” I didn’t die. I didn’t stay a frozen vegetable. I broke out. I found my get-out-of-jail-free card and I started improving. But in my eyes, I still did, in fact, become a burden.
No one ever wants to use that word because of the negative connotations and excess baggage it carries with it. But it is what it is – I became “a load, typically a heavy one.” I know petite, little me isn’t exactly heavy literally but I’m definitely heavy metaphorically. It sucks. I know I add more work, more stress and more bills to my family’s plate and I can’t do anything about it. They do their utmost best to convince me I’m not any extra effort at all, and it almost works. We get into our routines and I’m lulled into a false sense of normalcy. But then when we break from that routine or stumble upon a place that isn’t accessible, I have front-row seats to the little fires I cause everywhere I go. It kills me to see how much I’m draining from the people I most want to make smile.
I have to convince myself I’m worth every bit of it. I have to pretend I’m the most successful, coolest chick in the world who has earned the right to wreak so much havoc. Otherwise, the guilt of merely existing would consume me. I would just be a sorry sack of apologies and would banish myself to my room for all eternity.
But, I know I’m the same kind of burden to people that my dog, for example, is to me. He adds more work, more stress, and more bills, but, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. A burden I’m more than happy to carry. I’m a burden my family is proud to carry. More than proud. One they wouldn’t trade for anything. They convince me of that indisputable fact with their every gentle touch and unending selflessness. Their love is something else, something infinite and otherworldly. Every time I make them smile or beam with pride, it feels like a victory of the highest order. They are simply the best, better than all the rest. Better than anyone. I’ll never know what I did to deserve them.
It’s not just my immediate family, it’s my extended family and friends too who show this burdensome girl some crazy love. For Rakhi (an Indian holiday that celebrates and solidifies the brother-sister relationship), my cousin bought me the domain name harshadarajani.com, which was so on brand for my tech genius but also showed how much he believes in me. I needed help with a personal care issue the other day and my friend said she would feel honored if I considered asking her to help. Honored! At an old friend’s wedding last week, two of my cousins were happy to leave all their friends at the open bar and popping dance floor to spend 45 minutes with me in the library doing the most GQ photo shoot ever. Maybe I’m actually the coolest chick around 😉
All this love makes it easier for me to convince myself I’m worth the effort. I’m the burden you believe in, the one you’re honored to carry, and that makes me feel quite simply, the best.