On the surface floats a rather obvious answer. My culture is rich in a sort of Horatio Algieresque bravado: a climb every mountain, sail every sea, be all one can be despite rain, slow, sleet or what have you. So, as long as one can do a thing, or dream a thing—one damn well better.
Imagine working for years to build a house. Each room carefully designed for form and function; from the lovely solarium looking out over the rose trellis to the cozy den with its well-appointed wing chairs and grand fireplace. One day, a letter arrives in the mail that the bank is oh so very sorry, but there was a terrible oversight and they will be foreclosing on this beloved house. The letter doesn't specify a date or a time; but it will happen. After wrangling and fighting; the house's loss is a foregone conclusion. The owner can batten down the hatches and refuse to recognize what is coming or the owner can pack a few things and depart or the owner can quietly close down the place; shroud the furniture, close off room by room; and hunker in to live out the days left to the house.
With the steady onslaught of loss caused by progressive MS, the third option was always my choice. A continuous process of closing doors and putting away those things I can no longer do. Sold the bike at a garage sale years ago; stopped driving with the arrival of aural neuropathy and weakness; left the dream job and never went back; stepped back from volunteering at my church; from the practical day to day functions to the bigger things like my dreams of an old age with my hubbie; I've chosen to close the door, mourn the loss, and move on. It is harder to cling to the cobwebs of what if and maybe and constantly be disappointed than it is to let go of losses and pack away dreams.
Over the past few weeks I've wrestled with a fourth option. Some events that seemed too far away are now close, such as my son's 2012 college graduation. My recovery from the July relapse and hospital stay is better than I ever expected. And then, there is Desmond TuTu.
A delightful young woman I know spent last semester sailing around the world. He was part of the faculty leading and teaching during the trip. On a shore excursion that had an audience element (I am fuzzy on the details) she was sitting in the crowd when a hand tapped her shoulder. It was Desmond TuTu offering her popcorn from his tub. She took a few polite kernels. This exchange repeated itself several times. Finally, he leaned over, held out the tub, and said, "Be Greedy." Take a big handful, dive in and don't miss the buttery ones. Don't be polite, or shy, or resigned to a little bit. Be greedy.
I heard this and had one of those clear, bell tolling moments. Here I am settled into these clearly defined square feet of my life. Resigned to the room or two I live in while I purposely allow the rest of the house to slowly molder away. Can I, should I even consider opening any door, pull open the curtains on any of the things I have worked so hard to let go of?
For a walking talking non MS person the answer is simple: yes, be greedy. Life without adventure and dreams isn't worth having. But be careful, don't forget for one minute that MS is beating at the door and any minute I could have a huge relapse and no matter what I wish for I won't be walking or working or dancing again any time soon.
So, do I plan to go to New Orleans next May? Do I delve into the garden catalogues that come in the mail. Is living with the maybe of it make any sense. Or would it be better to firmly and quietly make decisions now.
Be greedy...Is that possible or even wise in the world of MS?