The Other Side of the Coin

My wife and I went to Menard’s this morning, to pick up a few things for some work needed around the house.  We got there, and as we walked through the parking lot to the store, I noticed a middle aged guy walking with a limp, sliding his right leg along with him as he walked.  Inside the store I noticed another guy, this one with a facial tic that made his head bob and jerk uncontrollably.

Then I noticed another guy, around thirty years old. There was nothing unusual about him, but our eyes met, only for a moment, and I recognized that he was looking at me like I was looking at the other broken people, and I became aware that my rigidity was showing in my walk.

So I’ve joined the corps, the ranks of the broken brigade, the random and anonymous people I’ve so often times noticed in the past. I never imagined that I’d become one of them.

I’m down. I don’t have many days like this, but when I do, they’re a living Hell. I wallow and mope. I am aware of how much my rigid body aches, and the usual coping mechanisms fall short.

On days like today, I tell myself that this wasn’t part of the deal, the aching, the rigidity, the drooling, the losses of balance, the fatigue. I never asked for any of this. All the things I usually tell myself feel like bald faced lies. On better days, I always remind myself that there are any number of people out there who have it a whole lot worse, who’d give anything to trade places with me. But today that argument falls flat, and I can only see myself like I could have been, like I was supposed to be, if not for this fucking disease. The accumulation of things lost becomes overwhelming.

It’s winter and there isn’t a whole lot to do outside. The ground is covered with several inches of snow that drifts up to a couple of feet in some areas, making just walking around the yard a dicey proposition with my impaired sense of balance.  During the weekdays I am alone with my dogs in the house. Cabin fever is definitely setting in.

My fear on days like today is that it’s not me. I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the pathetic loser staring back at me. There’s no spark of resistance, no fight in his eyes. This is what scares me the most – that eventually, days like this will become the norm and not the exception, and I’ll have given up, admitting defeat.

But, in the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, “tomorrow is another day.” It may sound corny and naïve, but sometimes, corny and naïve are all you’ve got.