Standing on the Edge of a Well
I have always felt like we were two people standing on the edge of a well. We both got pushed in, and it was only because of where I was standing that I was capable of catching the edge. I was left watching him tumble down to the bottom and drown while I hung onto the edge, not knowing if I would fall in or climb out. It seemed so unfair that he had no chance of survival from life’s early push of fate.
Denny and I talked a lot every time I would visit. He always wanted to listen to me. He always had a lot of questions about who I was. Somehow I found inner peace within those visits. My fear of MS subsided in a way. I was not going to die from this. I was not decaying with speed that Denny was. I was still very young and I still had many years ahead me. Denny was my friend. Denny taught me how to give selflessly to others that need someone talk to. Denny taught me that it's alright to let people see my sickness.
He also taught my son how to do a wheelie in a wheelchair. I love him for that because he taught my son not to fear or ignore people with disabilities. My son was seven years old when Denny died, but he still remembers riding around on the back of Denny's wheelchair. My son also still remembers Denny's laugh after all these years.
Denny died about three years after I met him. The documentary had dwindled when he lost the support of his friends. They had tired of him and he was left in a care center. His daughters loved him very much but they were still too young to have the resources to support him when his girlfriend left him. In the end, my visits with Denny became solely about hanging out with a friend.
To this day, I still believe that we needed each other very much; but I know that I got the better end of the bargain. I was given the gift of his strength and guidance and I was also blessed with time. I have been given such irreplaceable gifts in this life.
I am grateful. I am grateful for Kier bringing me and Denny together. I am grateful for the many hours that Kier sat and listened to the two of us talk. I am grateful that my son learned the deep lessons of love and loss, at such a young age, and with such grace. I am grateful that Denny wanted to help me while he was suffering.
I learned that I am not alone. I learned that love can come from strangers and settle within your soul for life. I learned that this world does terrible things to wonderful people all of the time – that is just life. Grace comes from finding the beauty within the pain.
I learned that I am not special in regards to suffering. My suffering is unique to me, but I am not unique for my suffering. It is the human plight. I learned that I need people, and that's OK. Most importantly, I learned that today might be hard, but I still have a tomorrow and not everybody can say that. I am thankful for today.
No one can or should tell you how to accept this disease. Everyone has their own path. I've never wanted to accept that I am stuck with MS. I hate this disease. I still get furious about it and that's OK, because it motivates me to stay healthy and strong.
Acceptance found its way to me through my release of control over my fate, and my realization that living with this uncertainty and loss has also given me bountiful blessings.
A friend of mine asked me early on, “How are you doing?” My answer was simple: “I am physically on the mend, but I will not be fully healed until I am grateful for getting multiple sclerosis.” I really never knew if that day would come, but when I take stock in my life, I realize that my whole family is the better for it.