I’m Too Young For This, Too
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Profile photo of Leslie Rott

Many of you are probably aware, but my dad suddenly and tragically passed away the second week in August.

He was 62 years old.

I lost my father the day after my 29th birthday, although I found out that he was missing the night of my birthday.

For those who don’t really understand rheumatoid arthritis, it’s commonly thought that RA is a disease that only old people get, and the resulting quip is, “You’re too young for this.”

Well, I’m too young for this, too.

My dad was too young to die.  And I am too young to have lost a parent.

But it didn’t help to hear that when I was diagnosed with RA, and it certainly doesn’t help me now.

I may be “too young for this”, but it happened, so clearly I’m not really “too young for this”.

I never anticipated that I would be diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses at the age of 22, and I never expected to lose one of my parents before the age of 40.

When I got diagnosed with lupus and RA, I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen.  I never imagined something that could throw me off my axis and rock me to my core more than getting sick.

But my dad dying is that worse.  It didn’t directly happen to me, but it is the worst thing that could have happened.  If there is a worse than this, I don’t want to know about it.

And I’m really struggling.

I know that my body is going to rebel.  I know I am going to flare.  It’s not a matter of if, at this point, but when.

So while I try to work through my grief, anger, and everything else that comes with it, I sit here, waiting for the next storm to blow through.  Because I know that the next storm will be within me, not outside of me.

When I was growing up, I always got along better with adults than with kids my own age.

I’ve been called an old soul.

My RA diagnosis definitely brought that idea into reality.  And I think my dad’s death plays into that a little bit, too.

Things have been piled on my plate that no one should ever have to deal with, let alone someone my age.

And oddly enough, I guess I was under the naïve impression that because of everything I have had to deal with, with my health, that maybe I was immune to the other tragedies that can happen in life.

Maybe not immune forever, but immune for right now.

But I’ve learned that we are never immune.  No matter what you’ve been through, there can always be more, and there can always be worse.

So while I attempt to practice self care, it’s a little hard to just not care.

I don’t want to be dead.  That’s definitely not what I want.  But I want to withdraw from the world until someone understands my pain, illness and otherwise.

It seems like adding insult to injury.  I feel like I have been through a lot in the last several years.  I deserve a break from catastrophe.

Through all of this, I’ve learned that there are many people who have lost a parent at a young age.  For many of these people, I had no idea that they had lost a parent.  To me, they seemed so normal and well-adjusted that I could never have imagined them going through something like that.

Maybe someday, that will be me.

Right now I’m not okay.  Hopefully someday I will be.

But I never have been, and will never be, “too young for this”.

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