Day 32:365 Grateful Challenge and April 20th A to Z Challenge
Today I am grateful for the quality time that I spend with my loved ones. Quality time can be defined as the time you spend with someone, giving them your full attention because you value the relationship (Cambridge dictionary). This is not an easy post to write but I am going to give it my very best. I began writing it in the wee hours of this morning because I could not sleep so please bear with me if this post seems scattered and begins to ramble.
Yesterday I received word that one of my closest and dearest friends is losing her battle to multiple sclerosis. While she has fought the good fight, her organs are beginning to shut down. It breaks my heart to watch her deteriorate and suffer this way. Last night I said goodbye to her and spent as much quality time with her as I could because she deserves all the love, dignity and respect that I can muster at this time in her life. It is not about me right now; it is about her and making sure that, as she leaves this life and goes onto the next, she knows that, not only do I value my relationship with her, I love her with all my heart.
Only last week I was talking with her and her voice was the strongest I had heard it in months. She was speaking clearly and without hesitation. It was a glimmer of hope! Was she turning a corner? But that is the insidious nature of multiple sclerosis; it gives you hope one day and takes it all away the next. It is like so many chronic conditions; it lies to you. It tells you one day that everything is going to be okay and, then the next, it leaves you feeling vulnerable and alone. It tears you and your family up. It robs you of your quality of life and changes your plans about how you were going to live that life. It tries to steal your dignity by trapping you in a body that you no longer recognize. The long and the short of it is, is that living with a chronic and invisible illness really sucks sometimes.
MS has always been a double edged sword for my friend and me. Had I not been diagnosed with it amost thirteen years ago, I would never have been introduced to my friend, whom I am going to refer to as Quality for the remainder of this post. Quality suits her best because she is the epitome of quality in the way she has lived her life and managed her disease. It is also how she makes me feel, like I am true quality, in every moment we have spent together.
Quality and I have been polar opposites from the moment we met. She is intensely private and I blurt everything out. While you are never quite sure of what it is she is thinking, mine is written all over my face. She is extremely organized while I fly by the seat of my pants. Her home on a bad day is how I would hope my home to be on a good day. She is the art of perfection while I am the bumbling idiot. She is Felix Unger and I am Oscar Madison, big nose and all. We could not be more at odds if we tried.
Yet somehow it worked. Somehow this mismatched pair became the best of friends. I once asked Quality how she put up with me and she replied, “There is nothing to put up with. It is how you make me feel. I can tell you things that I have never told anyone else. You make me smile and, most importanly, you make me laugh about things I never thought I could.” She’s got me there but she also did that for me, too.
We quite often joked about how we were going to end up in the nursing home together. She often said that I was going to be the one causing all the mischief (imagine) and she was going to be the one going behind me putting everything back together. Once I said to her, “You know when we’re in the nursing home together, you’ll have to be the good one, the polished one because I’ll be the one saying, ‘Quality, ring the bell for the nurse. I’ve just pissed meself.'” By the old snortin’ Norton, how we laughed over that one. She laughed the hardest because she knew it was true.
Quality is the friend who gave me my Dammit Doll; she knew that I was the one person who needed it the most. She gets me, flaws and all. She knew where I came from and all that I have overcome to get here and she loves me despite myself. Quality has been after me for years to write. “You should be writing a novel. You are so talented and have such a way with words.” Never one to accept compliments easily, I replied, “Yea, Yea, Yea. I can’t write my novel until certain relatives are dead. It’s the only thing I know about but I can’t have them recognizing themselves in it.” When I finally sent her the link to my blog, she replied, “I knew you had it in you. Now get back to writing. That novel isn’t going to write itself.”
Last night, Quality knew me despite moments of incoherence and hallucinations. She even managed a smile or two for me. That speaks volumes right there. And even though she is hallucinating, she is still the master conductor of those hallucinations. She had us all jumping, making sure that everything was being taken care of that needed to be done in those hallucinations. While I was sitting beside her, she ordered her husband to take care of whatever it was she was hallucinating about. He dutifully said, ‘yes dear’ and pretended to leave the room to take care of it, only he hid around the corner out of her sight. She turned her head to me and said clear as a bell, “All money and no brains.” I thought I was going to piss meself laughing and that we were going to have to press the buzzer and call the nurse in to change me knickers right then and there.
There is a saying that we MSers use; “I may have MS but MS doesn’t have me.” Quality may be losing her fight with MS but she sure as hell is not letting it have her. She is not letting it take her personality, her dignity, her soul. She is not going gentle into that good night. She is raging, raging against the dying of the light (Dylan Thomas). I intend to be with her every step of the way.
I love you, Quality, to infinity and beyond.
Felix and Oscar: 1