As we gather together this week to celebrate Christmas, I can’t help wondering if this could be my last Christmas. Please forgive my being a little melancholy here. It is not my intention to throw cold water on everyone’s enjoyment of the season. Bear with me as I consider a few things.
Something tells me I will still be here this time next year. Not sure why. Just a feeling. But because of the way ALS progresses, it’s pretty certain I will be unable to do very much then. I may not even be able to write a Christmas blog post. Though, I do anticipate having some sort of eye gaze apparatus by then. For now, Dragon is still my friend!
It’s a very unique perspective looking at life and knowing I am “on my way.” Most people my age (57) are looking forward to retirement time, travel, hobbies, grandchildren, and projects around the house. Living with an ALS diagnosis for some 16 months now, I have gradually gotten used to the idea that I will not see old age. In fact, there is a pretty good chance I won’t see 60. I have accepted this. Family and friends may not feel the same and I understand that. If our positions were reversed, it’s likely I would feel the same as you do.
So, what if this is my last Christmas? What if this is the last time I will be able to say, “Merry Christmas” in my own voice? Well, is it really such a tragedy? After all, Christmas, love, family, dear ones, etc. will all continue long after I am gone. I have been blessed with almost 60 Christmases! Every single day I am blessed with the love of God and family and friends! Nothing can separate me from that love! Love carries me through each day and every challenge.
One of my joys in life was playing handbells for many years. The last time I was physically able to perform with the group I was in, San Diego Harmony Ringers, was two years ago. Making the decision to step away from something I loved to do just about broke my heart. But I am so grateful that I was able to do it for so long. I came across this quote that expresses perfectly how I feel:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
I have found myself applying this thought in lots of situations since my diagnosis. In fact, I may include this among a few other things I would like to be shared after I am gone!
As I have told many people, this blog began as a way for me to cope. It still serves this purpose. The thoughts I share here are just that: thoughts. Nothing too profound. And hopefully, not too depressing. Life can be hard no matter what we face. My family and I just happen to be dealing with a terminal illness. Everyone has “stuff”. We can’t always control what happens in life but we certainly can decide how to respond.
So IF this is my last Christmas, it just means I will spend the next one in heaven! This is a good thing.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”