It’s been 5 days since I heard I have ALS and already there is a sense of “back to normal” or “new normal”. I woke up this morning and I wasn’t crying. I almost missed the grief – l guess that the vividness of those feelings is some consolation prize for being sick or something... I can’t explain it. Mac and I had some of the kids from school over last night and we laughed and played Pictionary and ate just like always. Shakespeare nailed it in so many ways, but one of them is how he included clowns and inane situations in his tragedies. He recognized that we couldn’t handle uninterrupted Hamlet or love sick pups like Romeo and Juliet so we have the gravedigger, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Lancelot, Gregory and Samson… the list goes on. We couldn’t take it otherwise. We need to return to “normal.” I know my “normals” are going to change over time – right now walking is somewhat normal but not forever. Right now I can (barely) operate the clasp of a necklace but one day Velcro clothes will have to be normal. I guess the grieving will be parceled out on an as-need basis –like James Taylor says in Never Die Young “….cut up our losses into doable doses. Ration our tears and sighs…..”
It’s really beautiful how resilient the human spirit is. Life just elbows its’ way in and shoves self-pity and grief to the side because life doesn’t want to fuck around.
One place I haven’t gone and honestly I’ve never personally heard a dying person go to is: “why me?” Really think about it. Why NOT me? Why anybody? Shit happens, it’s random and you deal with it. Period. I had a student who told me she was angry at god now which made me want to hug her but also made me feel the need to point out to her that god was far to busy helping the New England Patriots to a perfect season and she needed to cut him ( yes him – I’ll explain later) some slack. My poor devastated "baby's daddy" told me that he had prayed for the first time ever that my diagnosis would be good. “Yeah” I replied drolly, “that’s what tipped it.” We had a good laugh, but really what it comes down to is this: All our security, all our comfort, all our efforts to control our destiny -it is all a myth. Just ask the Ancient Greeks. We are walking a tightrope all of us and the only way to deal with that uncertainty is to embrace it, to seek balance, to love the all-powerful life force and to recognize that certainty ain’t so hot either.
Today a walk with Alison, hang time with wonderful Mac and some warm soup. Mac and I are working on an adaptation of Aristophanes play “Peace” (chosen by Mac). That boy is going to be just fine.