Friday, September 10, 2010

When MS keeps you from those you love

Uncle Harry's baptismal journey ended yesterday. He wasn't really my uncle, but he was a close family friend and I think he didn't want to be called Mr. Rosenberg. He watched us grow up; I played with his granddaughter; he taught me about Kentucky Fried Chicken :)

He would always stop to visit once I graduated from high school, moved away from home, and came back. My parents always told me that he would ask about me.

I was diagnosed with MS.

For awhile, you couldn't tell, or I could hide it by standing still. Eventually I used a walking stick, then a leg brace, then a wheelchair (due to being pregnant), then my daughter's stroller, then a walker, and usually a combo of things.

The tricky part is when I would add something. When I added the brace, it was emotional and I remember my doctor asking me if I was ok and if I was ready for this. This doctor really understands me - I can't hide my emotions like I can for most people.

I got the brace and let it sit in my closet. I used to do a big walk and there was a steep hill that used to frighten me. One day I decided to try using the brace. And suddenly the hill was no longer frightening - I was free.

With each tool I started using, I grew to learn they weren't bad things - they were great! With the wheelchair I could finally go to the mall or anywhere else I wanted.

But the obstacle was returning to places where people hadn't seen me in awhile. Often the reaction from those people was one of sympathy - my MS was worse. What they failed to see was the freedom I was gaining.

Because of varied reactions, I chose not to return to see many people with whom I grew up. I didn't want the stares of pity, or looks that something bad had happened when in reality, I was more free.

In making this decision, I realize how many people I did not see for a long time, like Uncle Harry. I never knew how they would react, so I missed a lot.

Now Uncle Harry is gone and I will decide whether to go to his funeral, because everyone will be there who grew up with me. So I asked a good friend if she thought I should go. "Absolutely," she said. "You need closure."

"But what about all those people?"

"They don't matter."

She right. I will go back. And perhaps, on other occasions, I will go back again.



Rosemary said...

Oh Beth, You nailed it when you talk about how people treat you that you haven't seen for awhile. Recently I went to a memorial service for a friend and most of the people there I had been social with when we belonged to the golf club. Wow, they sure gave me a wide birth when they saw me hobble in with my cane. Some of them did come up and ask if I had hurt myself. When they hear the term MS they don't know how to react but they also seem a little anxious to move on. I'm an easy person to talk to and I have a great sense of humor so I use to be the life of the party. Well the party has moved on. This is the new normal I guess but I do miss the people. So I think you should go to that service and just pay tribute to a man who cared about a little girl, a kind soul, which we need more of in this world. Take care my friend. Rosemary

ms'er faith said...

I'll be going. The "funny" thing is, I don't think he would have changed what he thought of me. He had a heart of gold.