Jump in that Lake: the story of ALS and a life gone too soon
Her blazer still hangs in my closet. A reminder of a life gone too soon. It hangs in the back. I pass it occasionally, remembering a woman who touched my life.
It’s not my style. Sparkly, cream, blazer. During our cross-country move, spring cleaning, I’ve contemplated donating the blazer but there it continues to hang.
She would have been in her mid-50’s at this point. I met her while working at a local nursing home. I had left my corporate job months before. When asked why I was leaving I simply said,
“I love old people”.
The HR manager laughing, “I bet that’s the first and last time I’ll hear that in an exit interview”.
And while old people are what you’d expect when you think of a nursing home, it’s not the only folks who take up residence.
Kim* was middle-aged yet ALS had forced her into a home surrounded by souls’ decades older. She loved visitors so I would stay late and enjoy her company.
We watched trashy reality T.V. because she loved it or maybe because she knew I secretly did.
She would tell me how horrible it was slowly becoming a prisoner of her own body. To be left with nothing but her mind.
“See that plant over there? It desperately needs water but I can’t do it myself. I’m sick of asking others to help. I guess I will just sit here and watch it die.”
Weeks before her death she was intent on giving me the blazer. “I want someone to enjoy this, God knows I won’t be able to.”
She had regrets of a life she wished could have been lived fuller.
“I would have traveled more, I would have stayed in touch with my sisters, I would have not taken things so seriously, I would have appreciated my body: walked, danced, ran, embraced, swam, felt my bare feet on the earth.”
Her conversations stick with me. The mundane of life can cause me to forget the beautiful freedom I have. Of the walks I can take, the dance floors I can grace and the lakes I can jump in.
So in my closet, that sweater will remain, a reminder to appreciate the freedom God has given me, if only for the day.