Friday, February 8, 2013

At Least

I know a lot of people who are competitive, but I think in some way I am the most competitive of all of them (ha ha, did you catch that???).

Early-onset competitiveness: that's me on the left, totally out-doing my toddler sister and my granddad at pull-ups.

That's why I've never been much of a fan of "at-leasts."  

I think it all started when I was about five years old.  I remember standing in my driveway one day, eating one of those red, white, and blue Bomb Pop popsicles, and being so sad when the last part of it dropped off the stick and fell onto the driveway.  My mom, who'd seen the whole thing happen, said, "Oh, well, at least you got to eat most of it!"  

But I didn't just want most of it, of course; I wanted ALL of it (especially the blue part at the bottom, which I still consider to be the best part!).  And thus began my distaste for the term "at least." 

Growing up, I remember hearing that term used pretty often, way too often for my taste, by both adults and by my peers.   I cringed inside when I heard other people say things like, "At least you tried!" and "At least we got some of what we wanted."  Every time I heard that phrase, I knew I should probably buy into that type of thinking; I realized that it was an expression of optimism and gratitude, but I saw it as settling

That has changed, though, since my dad got sick.  I guess going through the experience of caring for him during those ten weeks and then trying to cope with his death over the past couple of years has changed my view on at-leasts; these days I'm actually a pretty big fan of the term.  I hear it from the lips of others who loved him too - and from those who have also who've suffered through a similar experience, and I know we are in a club of sorts whose members know the true meaning of that phrase.  I've never liked consolation prizes, but I guess that's just another example of how tragedy and hardship hammer out perspective.  

I came across an idea shared by a fellow griever yesterday that made me think about my changed feelings for at-least type of concepts.  She said she would rather have had the person she'd lost and had to have suffered through living without him than never to have had that person in her life at all.  How profound.  

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