WRITTEN BECAUSE: “I REALLY DO UNDERSTAND.”
Right up front I will tell you to just skip this posting if you are hard of heart, soul, mind or spirit. It’s not intended for you if any of those words apply to you. Seriously.
And now I write.
Few things, no, make that very few things can cause me to cry. In fact, I could probably list every occasion when tears have actually flowed over the past (30) years of my life. The death of my granddad in December of 1984. That event reconstructed a lot of my thinking going forward and I am not saying that it has always been for the best. Just different. Then there was a hot summer day in July of 2000. I was attending a funeral for a high school classmate that had passed away. I was helping the church singing group. I had been to see her in the hospital a couple months earlier and, while the prognosis was hopeful the realities were bleak. She and her family had (have) always been “extra” kind to me in special ways. Especially in my youth. I did really well through the entire funeral until… it ended. After everyone had exited the auditorium, except for our singing group, it happened. I watched as her Mom and Dad stepped forward from the pew in that little west Texas church to view their child for that final time. Seeing that crushed my heart, my mind, my soul and my spirit. And well…
I remember back in the early 1990’s when I was up against the feeling I have right now. Although I was not directly addressed by the person that I would later publicly pray for in that metroplex church before we left the building that evening, when the announcement was made that this little girl had been afflicted… I was left with no options as again my entire being was engaged in the consequences of what those words that had just been publicly spoken meant for that little girl. At the end of services I went forward to say a little something before leading the prayer. While there is probably not anything I said that night that is still remembered by anyone all these years later, I still remember praying these words before that church family.
“Please Lord, let the disease be anything else for this girl. Just please, not this.”
I always like to arrive super early to the games that we attend in the suite at AT&T Stadium. Gives me time to tape little pieces of paper with the names of attendees on their designated seats. Then I can grab my binoculars and sit down to see what Uncle Jerry Jones is up to. Usually about forty-five minutes before kick-off he will make his way to the field to greet and mostly… be greeted. But by game time the stadium fills and the suite fills and the start of the game is enjoyed.
Their group arrived a little bit late. I think they may have gotten detained at dinner before heading out to the stadium. But, I expect there was another reason they were slow getting from the parking lot and then finally all the way up to the suite. Here is where that crushing feeling comes into my life again.
I was distracted as the entire group entered in phases. I most always like to greet everyone when they arrive and then show them where the seats are with their names on them. And as I was busy doing this I did not notice her immediately upon entrance. I was saying “hello” to her father-in-law at the time she and her mother-in-law found their seats. The two seats right in front of mine. I will say right here… sometimes it is just too odd as to the way things are worked out. This is another of those oddities, at least for me it was.
When I sat down I greeted both women sitting directly below me. The mother-in-law on the left and by the steps of the aisle and the younger woman to her right and up against the glass partitioned wall that separates one suite from another. It was about midway through the first quarter that I saw the younger lady start turning around in her chair to face me as she sat with her legs under her on the seat. I thought that a bit strange. Then she spoke. While these may not be her exact words, they are the exact meaning. “I have RA.” She spoke rather softly and continued to say… “I’m scared.” I sat my binoculars on the little stand beside my chair and leaned forward to better hear her. By now I can see the range of thoughts and emotions in her eyes that I could identify with so very, very well. “You have RA, right?” she asked, I’m not sure who had told her but she obviously knew because that’s not something you just throw out on speculation.
I responded “Yes. How long have you had it?” At this point I am seeing the puffiness of her hands as she reached back and answered “A year now and I’m afraid and scared. I am in such pain and I’m perplexed and fearful.”
“How old are you now?” Typically I would never ask a female that question. While I may not be the wisest of the turnips that fell off the truck last week, I do have a bit of moxy from time to time. Probably just a bit though. I thought I understood her to say she was “thirty-three”.
This process went on a few times up until the halftime of the game. She would sit there a bit and then work her way into the sitting backward position and start asking questions while making statements all at the same time. She is, as she said, “Lost”.
I have been defined in many ways throughout my life. Mostly my adult life I should say in referencing these following words. “Over the top.” “Arrogant.” “Prideful.” “Stuck up.” “Smart aleck.” I particularly like that last one. Makes me think that “those who think they know so much should just be quiet and let those like me speak!”. Oh well, the nature of a man will shine through I suppose. I like to think of it as… humor.
There is a word that I sincerely hope accompanies me when my name is brought up after I am no longer around. Not that folks might have ever really seen it in me, but maybe they will have just known it. “Understanding.”
Those seats in front of me were occupied by others in the second half of the game. I watched as she struggled to get up and down and walk and move and… smile. She managed to smile throughout the entire evening. Perhaps I really “understand” that part better than anything.
There are many things I would love to say to her family. I am sure my wife would be way better equipped to say the “right things” as compared to what my words might be as she has now been living with me for over (32) years. But I expect the opportunity will never really present itself. And, as I am not one to overtly thrust myself into another persons life without being invited, well… I don’t think anyone ever asks another to “overtly” enter their life, I would hope that she and her immediate and then also her extended family avail themselves of the knowledge that would be so very helpful to this young woman as she struggles through so many kinds of hell that trying to define them all would be another hell in and of itself. You see, it will be the family and close friends that determine how her hell goes. And, no matter how powerfully assistive anyone in her life may become the simple fact remains: She will be alone with her thoughts and fears and pain. For these parts of the fight are locked away in regions of the heart, soul, mind and spirit that can only be reached and then touched by the Creator Himself. Period.
In less than two years I will be fifty-seven years old. My RA life will be fifty years old. While I will have battled the RA war for longer than this young woman has been alive, she will catch-up with my “understanding” very quickly. There is nothing joyful about that. Often there will be no words that suffice to help.
There are still very few things that can cause me to cry. May God Bless Her… Family.
GLB says… LATER! (Originally Written 11.19.2013)