Do you remember that famous quote, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”? Charles Dickens sure could turn a phrase, couldn’t he? At the very least, he summed up my experience last week.
Last Wednesday, I confessed I celebrated a milestone birthday. I also confessed I’m a big kid about my birthday, and I pout when my friends and family ignore my big day. I also told you my friends are sweet enough to indulge me with great food, laughs and of course, presents. All of this happened last week—all week.
The worst of times concerns how Ken felt most of the week. He suffered debilitating fatigue from the damn MS. Most everyday he was unable to walk from the kitchen to the living room, which was heartbreaking because we live in a small 1100 square foot bungalow. We both planned to celebrate my birthday by enjoying lunch at Red Lobster, one of our favorite restaurants. But when July 31st rolled around, the poor guy was too weak to go.
He collapsed in the hallway after he struggled to get dressed, and I couldn’t help him get up. He was dead weight and even when my daughter Sarah tried to help us, we were unable to get him up off of the floor and onto the sofa. So, he lay in the hallway insisting Sarah, Joyce and I go off and leave him home.
The last thing I wanted to do was leave, I had been through this scenario several times before, and I knew in about thirty minutes he would regain enough strength to move to a more comfortable place, but I wanted to stay with him. He almost got angry with me when I said, “Let’s go another time.” He gave me a look that said, “Just go!”
As I drove to the restaurant, I wanted to turn around and go back home. I didn’t feel like celebrating anything without him, but I knew he’d be more upset if I went home. He would think his sickness once again put a damper on my good time. What he didn’t realize is, when he’s not able to enjoy the outing with me, I don’t have a good time either.
This birthday was the first time in almost twenty years we were apart. Up until recent years, Ken always made a special effort to make me feel special on my day, and now he can’t. He can’t drive to a store, shop for a gift, make dinner reservations, and take me out. His decline has made him dependent on others, and that’s a hard pill to swallow for both of us, but it was especially painful on my birthday.
If you learn anything from me, take this away: Don’t take anything for granted. Be thankful for what you have and who loves you. Appreciate people you love and tell them often how much they mean to you. Tell them you are a better person because they have wanted to be part of your life. Believe me when I say, the only sure thing in life is CHANGE, and I guarantee someday your traditions will fade, and you will end up apart from the person you love–and maybe it will be on your birthday.