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For some reason, fairy tales seem to resonate with girls. Well, at least the Disneyfied version of the fairy tales resonates, if all those princess costumes are any indication. (I have a feeling that the original Grimm's Fairy Tales would resonate more with the boys, what with all the decapitations and disembowelments. Certainly that's all my son is currently interested in, which is why he loves the television show Grimm.) Like most girls, I grew up reading fairy tales, that "happily ever after". I was a fairy tale reading fool, grabbing as many storybooks as I could at the library. It was the midst of the seventies, so cable and video games hadn't been invented yet; reading was the thing that set a kid's imagination flying.
I often dreamed of the knight in shining armor, swooping in to save me from whatever peril I happened to be in at the moment, which often was chore-related. A knight on a white horse showing up to do my chores for me would have been awesome, and likely would have tremendously impressed my father. My mother is made of sterner, more realistic stuff. If a white knight showed up at our house, ready to carry me off, she'd have that guy cleaning up horse poop quicker than he could blink. Because white knights can do chores just as well as a thirteen year old, even if their armor rusts from doing the dishes.
The seventies was also a time when the Women's Liberation movement really took off. Women picketed for equal rights, and burned their bras, and generally raised a fuss. Somewhere in the middle of all that I decided that maybe I didn't "need" anyone to rescue me. I could rescue myself, instead of relying on a man to take care of me. There would have to be an imbalance in such a relationship, I reasoned. The girl being "taken care of" would certainly feel some sort of obligation to the male, wouldn't she? They wouldn't really be equals.
So I decided that I didn't really need that white knight. Instead, I would be my own hero. I would still occasionally yearn to be "taken care of", of course, such as when my car battery died or I ran out of gas or a really big cockroach ran into the house from the patio. Since there wasn't any such person, I took care of those problems by myself, including that big huge cockroach. I could take care of myself, and when someone offered to take care of me, I got downright resentful about it. I didn't need anyone. Even today, my husband grouses about me for trying to do everything myself.
Cancer patients can't afford to be self-sufficient. Cancer patients need to let go of the fairy tale that they can do it all. They have to focus on getting well again. I have had to let go of the need to do everything myself. I have no choice but to reach out to others for help, because I am not in a position to do all of this alone. I need the support, the prayers, the hand holding, the connection with others. to get through this.
Love isn't about the fairy tale; it's about reality. Love is hard work sometimes for that very reason. The person who sticks with you when things aren't so "happily ever after" anymore is the one who loves you, not the fantasy. My husband will be sitting with me while I go through my chemotherapy. He will help me get to the car and drive me home. He will bring me ginger ale for my nausea, make sure I drink enough water, and clean me up if I get sick. He will hold me when I cry as I lose my hair, and never say a word if I accidentally put my wig on backwards. I already love him more than words, but I love him even more, knowing that he will be there next to me. Whatever comes, we share, he says.
The description of a white knight in the fairy tales may need some updating.