Updated: Jan 27, 2019
I've never experienced a home invasion. Never been held up in a dark alley or a poorly-lit parking lot. I've never had my wallet swiped from my pocket, though in fairness I don't carry a wallet so the odds have always been in my favor there. There was the one occasion when I left my car outside overnight with the doors unlocked and I had to say goodbye to a cell-phone and a few dollars, but it was pure idiocy on my part and I wasn't there to experience the theft. I've never had an intimate understanding of what it feels like to have someone take something from you in a way that leaves you feeling permanently vulnerable. That is until my wife Sue was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
You see, Sue and I grieve a bit differently. She laments for the things that she was able to do in the past. I think a lot about the things that we won't be able to do in the future. Her mind is constantly comparing her daily existence to the one she used to have. She misses working, she misses driving, she misses taking the kids places on her own, she misses everything that was her previous life. There was a time when those things played in a constant loop in her head. She was getting to a dark place that I wasn't sure she could recover from. It's a short trip from disability to depression, since all disabilities come with an open-invitation to get lost in sadness. To think of nothing more than how you've been shortchanged. Robbed of what has been taken from you and robbed of what you were supposed to have, and supposed to experience, as a "normal" person.
So exactly what was stolen? You never quite know at the moment, but now with a few years in the rearview mirror it's more evident than ever. Things happen quickly after a life-changing diagnosis and it takes a bit of time to really feel the impact of it all. I find myself nearly breaking down from time-to-time in strange places - like the grocery store - but only if I'm alone. I might spot a couple walking through the produce department holding hands for instance. Small thing, but it reminds me that Sue and I, in all likelihood, will never do that again. Forget walking together on a beach or some romantic getaway, forget slow-dancing at our kids' weddings - I'm talking about holding hands in Costco. We've been robbed of that small experience and thousands of others just like it.
That is very difficult to come to terms with, let alone ignore. And with a diseases like MS - that tends to get progressively worse - I often wonder what will we be robbed of next? What are we doing today that we may be taking for granted?
Have you felt robbed? How do you cope with those feelings? Have you found a way to replace what you know has been lost? Leave a comment below or discuss in our Forum.