To My Mom's MS

Subject: To My Mom's MS
Date: 24 May 2016

To my Mom's Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis:

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what my life might be like if my mom didn’t have you. Or, I should say, if you didn't have my mom. Would I be closer with her? Would we do more things together? Would we take trips, see broadway shows or go shopping together? I have no idea how life might be if you weren't always around. But I do know how your presence has changed me.

I’m a lot sadder than I used to be.

I like to think of myself as a fairly optimistic person, but truthfully, you've made me a lot darker inside. You've hardened me and made me feel more sad than I ever have been before. You're heavy and burdensome, but I'm always carrying you with me.

I judge people more quickly.

I get angry at people who take important things, like their relationship with their mother or their ability to walk, for granted. I have no interest in being around people who complain about pity things or people who get caught up in things that don’t really matter. I can’t get away from those types of people fast enough.

I have less respect for people who have it easy.

I can tell almost instantly after meeting someone whether or not they have persevered through something difficult in their life. I tend to have less respect for those who appear to have had it easy in life. And tons of respect for people who have it a lot harder than I do.

I have less sympathy for people.

It’s hard for me to feel sympathetic for anyone unless something really terrible has happened and they won't have the chance to fight it. When people complain to me, all I think is that they’ll get over it, or at least they’ll have the chance to fight it. You never gave my mom the chance to fight.

I’m more independent than I ever wanted to be.

I’ve been forced to do things by myself that I would have never wanted to do without my mom. Like go wedding dress shopping. And look at wedding venues. I’ve learned how to get through things on my own. I don’t bother my mom with my pity problems because she has such more important things to worry about, like whether or not someone will be around to help her empty her colostomy bag before it explodes since her hands don't work. That's your fault, by the way.

I’m acutely aware of strangers who need help.

I’m lightening fast to notice when someone appears to be struggling, and a fire lights inside of me as I figure out how I will help them. I’m also braver when offering my help. I used to hesitate and act shy before offering to step in. Now I assertively step in when there’s even a small chance that someone needs help...because sometimes people are fighting invisible battles. Like you. You're a sneaky little bitch that way, because you can strangle someone, steal everything they have, and other people have no idea you're even there.

I’m much more selfless.

Caring for a parent who has you, MS, requires a lot of giving up of yourself. I'm constantly putting my mom's needs before my own. I make her breakfast before my own. I tuck her in before I can go to bed. My plans revolve around her. It’s always about her. I have to constantly be thinking about her needs in order to be a good caretaker. And, in turn, I've become more selfless.

I take advantage of more opportunities.

A person can never know when they're going to get diagnosed with MS, discover a brain tumor or something else really similar like get hit by a bus. If there’s a concert I want to go to, I just GO. If I want to travel somewhere, or have some particular experience, I recognize that I need to DO IT, QUICKLY, before I can’t. Life is such a crapshoot. I take chances when I have them. Because I know how quickly assholes like you can make those opportunities disappear.

I spend more time with my parents.

I actually want to spend as much time as possible with my parents and I truly understand how special they are. I want to soak them up and remember everything about them. I want to learn as much as I can from them. I make mental notes of their idiocies and sayings. I laugh at their jokes. I appreciate every little thing they do for me. I recognize how lucky I am every single time I see them. I guess I have you to thank for that.

I’ve grown closer with my entire family.

You've somehow brought our entire extended family together. I see my aunts, uncles and cousins way more than I used to. For the first time in my life, I feel like I actually know them, I’ve grown so much closer to them, and I really can lean on them for support. That's because of you, too.

Mostly, you've changed me by giving me perspective.

On what’s important in life. And on what isn’t.

On who matters. And on who doesn’t.

On how to live. And on how not to live.

On how to love, and how to love fearlessly. How to stay when things get really hard. How to love someone so much it hurts.

On how to endure. And persevere. And power through. And keep going.

Mostly, MS... you deceptive, manipulative, evil, unpredictable, greedy, bitch... whether you like it or not, you've taught me how to keep going. And how to not give up, even when I really, really want to.

And I guess I am grateful to you for that.