I said to my husband, “take a picture of me on this log looking out at the water contemplating my life.” He didn’t think that was funny. I wasn’t meaning to be funny. In two hours from that moment, I would walk into a doctor’s office at Cleveland Clinic and hear words that would possibly unveil the course of my future. All I could think about were the words written on my on-line chart, possible ALS. Sitting on that log looking at the force of the waves as they rolled in helped me to focus on who controlled my destiny, not the doctors or me, but where I put my faith. That was two years ago when my Parkinson’s Disease was confirmed.
I remember the punch in the stomach feeling when I heard the words possible ALS. Last night at dinner when she described the feeling sitting in the doctor’s office and she heard the ALS diagnosis of her husband of 49 years, I remember well the punch in the stomach that literally knocked her back as she described it, and mine was just the words possible ALS.
I haven’t seen her for years, and there we were last night having dinner with a mutual friend, the three of us sharing our lives. I wouldn’t say we were friends when we taught together, but, Carole is my friend now. We are bound together by a punch in the gut feeling that we both know all too well, the punch in the gut of a medical diagnosis that you can’t control. ALS and Parkinson’s.
Why weren’t Carole and I friends when we taught together. We just were very different. We still are. She is very intellectual and very academic, and I am, well, kind of a goofball. Carole probably got straight A’s in high school. I was an A, B, sprinkle in an occasional C kind of girl. While Carole was probably earning those straight A’s in high school, she met her future husband. She spoke about him at dinner last night with pride and love. I could tell she was experiencing the depth and pain of real love. Real love is committed, rolls up it’s sleeves, stands by someone’s side, feels what another feels. That’s what I saw in Carole last night at dinner, and she is my friend.
After I got home from this dinner with Marian and Carole, with whom I used to teach, I just happened to get on Facebook to learn that a former student of mine just had a baby girl. Michaela described looking at her little girl and wrote ” You have filled a place in my heart that I never knew was empty.”
By the way she described him at dinner, I am sure that is what Carole is thinking of her husband, a man who filled a place in her heart that she didn’t know was empty.
My friend faces the gravity of stepping into that emptiness. We will all face that some day. That’s when words like Reach out, Trust, Believe, Have faith, and I’m your friend are not so cliche. They become real and significant when you search for God and meaning in the emptiness.
Carole Savitsky reach out, trust, Believe, and have faith.
You are my friend. ❤