I feel guilty about my health crisis in 2009, when I lay in ICU attached to tubes and wires, my husband having to sit there and watch me die. Because I was dying. The surgeons told him so.
When I survived despite the dire predictions, I still had a long way to go to recover. I feel guilty for not being able to do anything at all when I was weak. He had to take care of all the chores and me. I could barely lift myself off the toilet. He changed my ileostomy bag for me, cleaned up my shit, soothed me and took care of me after I vomited up all the food he took the time to make for me. I feel guilty that he had to drop everything just to take care of me. I feel both guilty and amazed at his goodness, his care of me.
I feel guilty because my drastic illness caused friends and family to worry about me, to stop all of the things they needed to do in their own lives in order to help us out. Dear friends were afraid to open their newspapers every day for fear they would find my obituary. This is what I put people through.
During my recovery a friend, who had been caring and comforting during my health crisis, died. He was someone who was such an important part of my literary community and a great person, a brilliant writer and musician. I and a number of our mutual friends still feel his loss keenly. A work colleague of my husband's, someone he knew for decades, also died at the same time. When we attended memorial services and funerals, I felt guilty that I am still here when they aren't. I feel guilty for being so very glad to be alive.
Since then friends have lost parents or siblings, while others have had close calls themselves. And here I am completely healthy. This is a good thing, obviously, but it's hard not to experience a feeling of guilt over my good health and my good fortune.
I feel guilty about feeling guilty over my health crisis when I am so damn lucky to be here. I feel confused by the fact that I can feel both guilt and elation. This post is awkward & barely articulate because I don't really know how to explain these feelings and I'm not comfortable talking about them.
I haven't explored guilt as much in my fiction as others have. I don't know how to put these feelings into a work of fiction. They seem too abstract to me. "After great pain, a formal feeling comes," Emily Dickinson tells us. I am still too numb to use my own guilt as fodder for the world of my imagination.