28 April 2020

The Blues

I've struggled watching people I know and love (from a distance, and usually from social media) shrivel up and cease living due to fear. Or boredom. Or what they believe to be unconstitutional restrictions.

I want so badly to shout from the rooftops, "Seize every moment! Don't let a single second pass you by!"

I have felt as if I've been in my own little private makeshift quarantine for nearly two years now. Lizard had been growing more and more distant, his joyful and mischievous personality slipping away by the day. I remember wondering, initially, if he was falling out of love. I would ask him a question, and it seemed like it took forever for him to answer. If he did.

Then one May day in 2018 while riding up Waterton Canyon behind him, I noticed his balance was way off. Here's a guy who is poetry on a bicycle. He could balance completely motionless at stoplights 70 miles into a daylong ride between cities on a hot summer day. Yet pedaling, very slowly at that, up a super easy grade in one of our favorite places to ride, his bike was swaying, and his upper body looked as if 100 years or more had slapped him across the back.

I convinced him to make an appointment with his family practitioner, who did a bunch of blood work and sent my beloved for an MRI. We went to Moab before we had results. Moab probably is Lizard's favorite place in the whole world, and he was absolutely miserable. We had perfect weather, yet he didn't feel like riding. This just was not like him.

Something definitely was wrong.

In June of 2018, we were sent to a neurologist. It takes about two months to get in to see one for a first visit in Colorado. For two months, we made plans because we thought it was ALS. We thought we had, at best, 18 months. We were going to sell the house, buy an RV, then visit family while we could.

That time right now makes this Shelter in Place feel like a picnic. We are so blessed it was just Parkinson's, even though it is an aggressive strain, and Lizard is progressing more rapidly than we would like. After a total knee replacement in December and a procedure to break up scar tissue in February, he's learning to ride his bike again, and he's even trying to teach himself how to work on bikes again.

He may never reach the level he was back in 2017 again, but he's doing the best he can every day. It's no joyride, for sure. As his tremors increasingly prevent him from being able to perform everyday tasks like buttoning his shirt, tying his shoes or reading his favorite magazine (because printed words often begin "exploding" when he tries to focus more than about five minutes), it's all I can do to not break down in tears in front of him.

When he tells me he's a lemon, I always respond with, "No, you're a peach!" But deep down inside, it's killing me because I know how hard he's battling discouragement.

It would be so awesome to take off to the mountains every weekend, but he can hardly stand more than about five minutes in the car due to restless legs. So we do not venture far. Because of his surgery and February procedure, I'm trying to shield him from germ exposure. So I've felt as if I've been on lockdown since December. I don't like it, but I'm not going to waste any precious time mourning the lifestyle we've lost.

One of my friends recently quoted C.S. Lewis, and it took me back to post-Columbine. My kids were terrified to go to school back then, and there were days when the whole world seemed to have changed so radically overnight. I built my first webpage ever, called it the DebWeb, and posted a photo of a blooming columbine with my then-favorite quote: "Are you afraid of dying? Or are you afraid to live?"

Here's C.S. Lewis' take back in 1948:

"In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented; and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors — anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

"This is the first point to be made; and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies [a microbe can do that] but they need not dominate our minds."

We do not have to break social distancing rules by lifting a pint with our friends. At least not in the same room or even in the same building. (And my pint probably will be a lot different than theirs... mine would be fresh hibiscus lemonade!) We can be social in so many different ways now that were not available back before I was born. To me, this is all about attitude.

We don't have to live this quarantine in fear. We are all going to die one day. Nothing will stop that. Our reunion with our loved ones who passed before us will make our deaths a very joyous occasion. I personally am looking forward to seeing my sister and my brother again, and I imagine my grandmother is going to swoop us all up in the biggest hug any of us have ever experienced.

We can stop being afraid. We can cherish loved ones and friends; we can be kind to others; we can spread joy instead of fear.

We can live every moment as if it is our last. We can't afford not to! We never know when it will be the last moment for us or for someone we love. We never know when someone we love will begin slowly slipping away without leaving. Please, don't waste a single minute you could be spending loving someone or bringing joy to another.

Make. Every. Minute. Count.


  1. I agree - we have to make it count. I am so sorry for you and your husbands struggle - but just sharing it with us makes you even stronger

    1. Thanks, Alycia. I've learned to never dwell on how bad things seem... they can always get worse. So focus on the positive. (That's another attempt to convince myself...)

  2. I totally agree. I'm getting crazy not because of the virus but how people behave. A lot of people, we as a society don't acept the circle of life. They let their fear take over their lifes. It's good to see that there are people who don't fight it. I wish you and your husband all the best! Regula

    1. Thank you, Regula. I wish you all the best, also. Let peace reign!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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