Going off yesterdays little tangent on trying to be a good person in life, I decided that I would do something that I was putting off doing for a very long time.
Being the first born child, both my parents did not have any family members around them to help them in raising me. My mother never held a baby until I was born. Naturally, she was scared. Luckily, we had a neighbour who her self, was a single mother and had three children. She too had no family here. Instantly, the women (who is 10 years older than my mother), formed a friendship. To this day, my mother and this woman became very close friends, and my mother viewed that woman, as her mother.
She would visit us regularly, and she watched me grow in front of her eyes.
A couple of months back, she developed a cold, and she lost her voice. It almost sounded as if she had emphysema as she was a heavy smoker. They conducted multiple tests on her, and they found nothing. Her lungs were clean. They couldn’t however, identify exactly why her voice was lost. Small little things started to happen from there. She started to lose her balance, and would find herself drooling. Further tests were performed and the most imaginable diagnosis was provided. She had motor neuron disease (ALS).
My mother went and saw her every week, however every night, she would cry and talk about the condition that the woman was in. Everyday became worse. She now cannot walk, talk, eat or perform anything independently. She now sleeps in front of her window, and gazes at the people driving past in their cars or the trees that sway back and forth. She is stuck. Staring into peoples eyes, hoping that they will come in and see her.
I have a special place in my heart for this woman. She is essentially my grandmother. I grew up in front of her, and she was always doing what ever she could to make sure that I became a woman that never has to rely on a man and can generate her own money. In some ways, making sure that I don’t make the same mistakes she did.
Working in a medical centre, I knew exactly what this vulgar disease does to someone. My colleagues husband was diagnosed with ALS ten years ago, and seeing him be pushed in with a wheelchair, to now completely immobile, shatters any livings soul. So I knew. But I couldn’t bring myself to go see her. I knew that the moment I saw her lying in her bed, I would break down into tears and that would make her upset. So I avoided it.
With some persistence from my mother as well as my boyfriend, I decided to stop putting my needs and emotions first, and think how lonely this woman feels. Even for 10 minutes. Just being in her company, is something that not only I needed, but she did too.
I went in. The moment I saw her face, I could feel my throat tightening up a little. No. You have to hold it together. I stepped closer to her. She saw me and her eyes were gleaming. I went next to her and she was just starting into my eyes and feeling my face and hair with her right hand. My tears started to fall like raindrops onto her skin. I started sobbing. She started sobbing. Together, our tears could have saved a desert. My mother was telling me to stop crying as I was making the woman sad. But how could I not? This strong woman that helped raised me, that raised her three children on her own, is now restricted to this? Every time I looked at her, I remembered all the times that we had together. And now? All she can do is look into my eyes and I look into hers.
I regretted not seeing her earlier. I regret putting my needs and my emotions before that of someone who has an illness. It is the harsh reality. This is what this god forsaken disease does to people. It strips them off every single movement that they have. Theres a saying in our culture that when you die, you are placed in wood and lowered into your grave. Every day, this woman taps on the wood, and prays in her mind, that she can die, so she can be freed of the suffering she is in.
Seeing her, was probably one of the biggest wake up calls. You can’t run away from not trying to see the effects that illness have on some people. That is when people need you the most. At their lowest point. You can say you understand someones pain. However, unless you see and feel their pain, you can’t ever feel what they’re going through.
I’ll probably continue to cry every time I see her, and I am wiping away my tears now and I will probably cry tonight.
Right now, there is no cure for ALS. Please visit https://www.mndaust.asn.au/Home.aspx to find out more information about the illness and also please donate to research so they can help put an end to this. Human kind, we are capable of doing this.
A cure needs to be found for this.