Jun 21, 2015

No, the gift of being invited isn't enough. I wanted to be there.

Welcome to my 60 years party on Midsummer’s Day! Kjell

Special invitation, Ida & Luke would like Maria to come to our wedding!

On my table there are two invitation cards. One is from a very dear friend, Kjell. We got to know each other back in high school, lived at the same student home and spent so much time together in our seven party Friends gang it’s a wonder anyone of us got any grades. Well, the others did, me, not so much. And now he is turning 60.

The other one is from Ida and her soon to be husband Luke. Ida is originally a friend of my sons from a village close by, so I have known her since her teens. But she has also become a close friend of mine. And now she is marrying!

I very rarely get invitations. People don’t usually ask me over, and besides from choir get togethers I think the last time I was at a party was February 2012. That was fun though!

And now there are two invitations. From very special friends. And I had to say no thanks. Because I can’t make it. I can’t get there.

It’s Midsummer’s weekend in Sweden, the most precious of all holidays on the 64° latidude. Celebrating the light. And after three months of wet cold and windy Aprils and a June being like early May, summer actually arrived at Midsummer’s Eve! Sun, 63°F (17°C) and a mild breeze instead of exhausting gale. What a gift! Finally, and on the right day.

The modern tradition in my family on my mother’s side is to spend Midsummer’s Eve at Norrbyskär, an island south of Umeå where my cousin, sister and their husbands share a summer house. This year 17 persons from three generations got together, most living in Umeå, but some arriving from the south of Sweden, Paris and Miami. I couldn’t be there.

I had made the decision a couple of days before. It is just too much hassle. I take up to seats in a car as I have to pretty much lie done. To get from the ferry to the house is a way too long walk for me and although I largely has accepted my situation and physical limitations I am not comfortable being in a wheel chair. Airports and hospitals okay, but otherwise not.

And I don’t want to be pitted. My relatives would have been happy to see me there, but I have a hard time with all the caring “we are so glad you could make it”, heads tilted. Best intentions, I know, but I feel inferior and small. And then, someone driving me home, undressing me, making me ready for night. No. I just want to feel like a normal person. I don’t want the focus on me being all the special arrangements that come with me.

So, I had made the decision even though it wasn’t an easy one. Although, had I known my cousin Pär was home from Miami I think I had coped with the downsides. We haven’t seen each other in three years maybe, and that’s just too long ago. But I didn’t know until it was too late, and it made me very sad. 

On the other hand, I couldn’t have made it anyway, because the day before, I turned acute. A knife in my pelvis. Hasn’t happened since early March, but there it was again. Shit! It’s not allowed to happen in the summer as that’s my only chance to recover a bit. But there it was. Shit, shit! So in a way it was a good thing I had decided to stay home, the disappointment would have been terrible.

My Midsummer Eve had a happy ending after all. It turned out my every day help Josephine didn’t have any plans and was happy to spend the evening with me. She and her close to three year old daughter came over here in the afternoon, dressed in white lace and flower dresses, so of course I had to put my most summery dress on too. The wild flowers finally had come out and we strolled around my front yard in the gorgeous afternoon light while they picked me Midsummer bouquets from buttercups, red campions, cow parsley and cranesbill, the flowers closest to my heart and soul. It was the finest treat they could ever give me.

Hopefully there will be more Midsummers to come, but Kjell is only turning 60 once, and my wish is Ida only marrying once too. Both those invitations came as such a surprise for me. I don’t think I have seen Kjell since my 50-year birthday. And Ida, my sons weren’t even invited but I was! In both cases I felt chosen. 

I tried to come up with solutions for being there but failed. And all I could say was, I am so sorry but I can’t make it. Sorry for them, because they really wanted to share their special day with me - although I know they won’t really miss me, there will be lots of people there. But most of all sorry for myself. No matter how hard I try I can’t tell myself it was a gift enough to even be invited. I wanted to be there.

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