Everybody Has Something

We would love for our kids to be perfect. To not just be born with ten fingers and ten toes, but flawless genetics and impeccable luck so nothing bad ever happens to them, so they are never sick and never in pain.

Yet this is not to be. In her book Bomb Shelter, (a story we wrote about a while back) Mary Laura Philpott and her family found out that her son had epilepsy after he had a terrifying seizure in the middle of the night. Yet as they wound their way through the complicated, scary, stigmatizing medical issue, they reassured themselves and their son and daughter with the expression, Everyone has something.

Mom had migraines. Their dog had a pancreas issue. Their daughter had asthma. Everyone has something. “That’s one of the things John and I began saying to the kids,” she writes. “We meant it as a way of normalizing what our son was going through–like, hey, nobody’s without some medical adventure. Having a body means taking care of yourself in all the usual ways, plus whatever extra way might be required by your particular thing. You go to the doctor. You take your medicine. You do what needs doing, so you can go on with your life.”

We can imagine Ryan Shazier’s parents (he had alopecia, as we wrote about) or Teddy Roosevelt’s parents (he had asthma) or Johnny Gunther’s parents (you must read Death Be Not Proud about his brain tumor) saying something similar. You will find yourself saying something to your kids. Because all of us who have bodies all have something.

We have to take care of it. We do what needs to be done and go on with our life. It doesn’t need to be scarier or more shameful than that.

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