I wouldn’t trade the last three years with ALS for anything. I know that sounds a little crazy, but let me explain: Some women/men lose their husbands/wives suddenly. There is no warning. Like my friend’s friend who lost her husband in a work related accident. She got an unexpected call one day…just like that…he was gone. I wonder what their last words were. Did they kiss before he left for work that day? Or was he scrambling to get out the door while she scrambled eggs, packed lunches and got the kids up and ready for school? Because that’s how it is…that’s what life is like.
Pre ALS, Mike and I were often going in different directions. He worked two jobs and I worked part time and considered raising our children my full time work. It was good, but Mike and I were like two ships passing in the night (literally because Mike worked full time nights as well as some days and afternoons). We didn’t always kiss hello and good bye and our “I love You”s were few and far between.
But one day, someone wearing a white jacket holding a clip board and a bunch of test results said to me, “You have 3 to 5 years to tell your husband how much you love him.” I got a warning. My friend’s friend didn’t. No one told her the morning of her husband’s death that she had three to five hours to tell him how much she loved him. No one told her to make sure she kissed him good bye that day before he left.
At first I thought the doctor in the white coat with the bad news was our enemy, but now I believe she was a friend; a messenger of good news. I was given three to five years to kiss Mike every morning, every night and every time I go out and come back again. I got a warning. My friend’s friend didn’t get a warning and my guess is she would tell me I’m really lucky.
One day a few weeks ago I was scrambling to get out the door. I can’t remember if I was going to teach a class or if I had an appointment but wherever I was going I was running a little late. I was gathering everything I needed for my time out and I was making sure Mike was all ready for his time with his care giver. I always make sure Mike is comfortable before I walk away and on this particular day, it took a little longer to get everything just right. Mike watched me buzz around like a bee and then just when I was ready, I could see he had something to tell me. I was hoping we could make it quick and sure enough he softly spelled it out with ease: y,o,u, c,a,n, k,i,s,s, m,e, n,o,w.
Wow, I almost forgot. I almost forgot the most important part of my leaving. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my grandpa would say when we were about to part ways, “You forgot something.” I would kiss his cheek and he would kiss mine. It’s a memory forever etched in my mind.
So ALS I guess, could be considered a gift. I know I might not feel that way everyday, but today I give thanks for ALS. This is the first time I have given thanks for this debilitating disease. Mike gave thanks for ALS shortly after he was diagnosed. I’ll never forget when he said thank you to God for the things he wanted and the things he didn’t want in his life like ALS. He trusted God knew what He was doing.
I Thessalonians 5:16-17 says: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Another version says, This is what God wants you to do: be full of joy, never stop praying and in everything give thanks.
Our love would never have known these depths had Mike been taken away suddenly. Instead we were give three to five years to rejoice, pray and give thanks together everyday. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!