Friday, November 4, 2011

Searching for the right words

This week Nancy and I got news that one of our family friends was diagnosed with ALS. Unfortunately, this is not our first encounter with ALS. Back in 2004 another one of our friends, Carol Buckley was diagnosed with ALS. Carol passed away the following June. Seventeen years ago, Nancy's grandfather Toby passed away from ALS.

When I try to type out my ideas and feelings, I am dumbstruck.

On the one hand, there are all the analytic ways of viewing the disease and its effect on families and friends. What has me at such a loss for words is the emotional component.

There is the selfish side of me which feels shortchanged and cheated. The altruistic side overcompensates and looks for ways to make things easier. In the end, both fall flat.

Thus far, our friend Kim has taken an approach to ALS that I have never seen. Her path through this disease has opened my mind and my heart in ways I was wholly unprepared for. I encourage you to read her blog. And after you've read it once, and cried, I encourage you to read it again. And when you've stared at your own fears and insecurities, I hope you'll read her words again. Her rally against fear is the most impassioned plea for understanding I have ever read. This has made me question my own intentions, assumptions, feelings... everything really. The bottom line is that she asks that anyone thinking of her to banish fear and to only share joy.

Having been the recipient of the healing thoughts of many many people (plenty of whom I have yet to meet), I have a strange window through which to see Kim's request. I never would have imagined that having folks think about me would make a difference in my healing process.

But it did. It still does.

You can't go through an experience like this and not be changed.

So please, read Kim's words and before you react, before you say a word to the person next to you, banish fear and try to find the joy in your heart. And then share it.

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