The awful transition from player to spectator, sitting in the stands as others scramble for the ball, can be slowly traumatic. Meredith and I used to hike together, climbing the steep slopes of summer or biking the back roads, watching foliage change. Those are gone.
Perhaps that is a metaphor for the conventional life. Oh, to be active again. Such opportunity on the planet is to be cherished, even celebrated. For many of the sick that begin their life of loss in youth, autumn comes early as the physically active life stands at a distance and we are forced to sit it out.
For those of us who knew the exhilarating expectation of the limitless life for at least a few decades, the quality of loss is different from those who never knew it. Our hands grasped the fullness of life. We had it all before we had to watch in horror as so much of what we loved slipped through our numb fingers.
Arms, Hands, fingers begin to fail. The silver screen of vision has begun to fade to black. Standing has turned to sitting. Muscles have shrunk. The list goes on. My diagnosis of MS came at twenty-five. Vision in both eyes was ravaged by thirty. Function faded through the years, and he crumbling continues. One thing I can say with conviction, though, is that I have a great life.
I know I am a broken record. We cannot allow ourselves to become victims. We must live as fully as we can. Sometimes we can flourish. This is our one shot on the planet. Why squander it feeling sorry for ourselves?
I am no hero. And there is no prescription for making our lives work. But we must stop building fences around ourselves, then complain that we are closed in. Opportunity is out there. Let’s not take the easy way out and assume we cannot do something or that we will be denied the chance. We have to reach down and find strength from within. Don’t look for it under the Christmas tree. When we think the world says we can’t, we have to tell ourselves we can. We must never let illness allow us to lose faith in ourselves and sit it out.
I am a prisoner of the grandstand seat only in my mind, when I get down on myself for being less than I was, too often forgetting I am more than I was because I have learned life the hard way. Those can be powerful lessons.
Often, we cannot do it alone. I know I cannot. Meredith is my friend and ally. She knows intuitively when to back off. She also understands I need to be pushed and knows when to lean into me. Her touch may not be gentle, but neither was Vince Lombardi’s, and he knew something about winning.
All of us want to be winners. What is the point of the exercise if we just give up?