I have been living on borrowed time for a long time. Every day since that man in the pickup crossed into my lane and smashed head on into my MG Midget convertible at about 45 mph. Yes, the top was down. When I saw that even my evasion efforts of pulling off into the breakdown lane were not going to prevent the accident, that having slowed my vehicle to almost 0 and pulled the emergency break. I threw my upper body sideways into the other seat, took my feet off the pedals, and thanked God for the many opportunities I had had in life and the many good people I had met.
The MG did not survive. Nor did my pantyhose. When I sat up in the driver's seat, after hearing the truck door slam and the man yelling "I've killed her. I've killed her, OMG I've killed her," I thought he was going to have a heart attack. I had a small cut and bruise on my left knee where it banged against the knob that rolled the window up and down. Even the police officer could not believe I wasn't dead, much less barely scratched. That is the moment I knew God had some purpose in life for me. I had no idea then what that purpose was. I still do not.
Even that day, unbeknownst to me, lupus had begun to destroy my body. That was almost thirty years ago. Lately, I have begun to think my borrowed time is running out. That whatever task God had in mind for me has been accomplished, even though I lack the foggiest.
Most days I feel too tired to go outside to my garden, or even to sit at this keyboard and write. I'm weaning off prednisone, because it will take 5 years off my life if I don't, and it's not controlling the lupus. I see my doctor in a few days, and I am expecting bad news on my test results. Inside, I just know something is not right.
I will not subject you to a litany of the pain that is now with me day in and day out. I will only say that most days, at some point in the day, I end up crying from it. I lay in bed and moan, because I cannot make it go away without taking prescription pain killers, and I do not want to die an addict, even though I know that eventually, I probably will.
There are still so many things I want to do, to see, and I know I never will. Some of them are big things, like seeing Sweden before I die. Some are tiny, like cleaning out a drawer, but I am too exhausted even for that.
Mostly I read and watch movies or British TV shows. People exhaust me, even those I love the most. Putting on that stoic face to keep from crying, or moaning, or screaming has become enervating. Putting up with those that irritate me has become impossible.
The real problem is that I do not know how this stage will take. Will it drag out several years, with my family and friends growing more and more agonized by my pain? Months? Weeks?
Or is this not what I believe it to be, but just lupus playing with my body chemistry? Having been clinically depressed, I know this is not depression. I can feel joy in simply touching my husband's cheek, or petting my stubborn, narcissistic cat, and laughing at her narcissism.
No, this is something else. It feels like goodbye, like my body telling my spirit "I want a divorce." I don't think my spirit was expecting it.
God gives us life, and He takes it away. What those who have never been in the position this woman is, or many others with debilitating diseases, do not realize is that sometimes our lives are taken from us bit by bit. It is that particular situation, not young people in good health with lives ahead of them going through a rough spot, that I address.
We disabled watch those who love us working to take care of us until they are exhausted. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We watch their financial sacrifices, and watch their enjoyment of life drain from their tired eyes. The more and more dependent we get on them, the more we think "they could have a better life without me." We love them and want that for them, especially if they are also getting older, feeling arthritis, experiencing heart disease, depression or other health concerns of their own.
Ever thought God also gives us the will to continue or the courage to die? The choice to keep fighting beyond physical, mental, spiritual exhaustion, or the courage to free one's loved one's from debt, struggle and the same kind of exhaustion? It just might be cruel to deny this woman the peace she seeks for herself.
I speak as one whose life has eroded from beneath her feet for decades. My career. My dreams of motherhood. The respect of people who knew me but not my disease. Suffered the contempt of people who do not know me and do not know my disease; managing to find the love within myself that made it impossible to wish they suffer this one day.
I still fight to make the most of every day, , to find, create, as much joy and laughter to buoy my own heart and those of others, to do as much as I can for myself, for others, for the world, for love. I admit that I am growing increasingly less willing to fight as my abilities continue to erode, as it becomes increasingly difficult to make even the tiniest of dreams come true, and most of all, as I see the stress my beloved husband undergoes every day. I die by breaths, but the amount of time I can hang on, long after I can do nothing for myself or others, stupefies me.
I am not there yet. Yet I see my future, with all its pain, and I do not wish that on my husband. Some day I will be where Marie is, and anyone who stands in my way does not know the first thing about loving others as we love ourselves.
My prayer is that Marie and the Irish courts find the wisdom to break free of medieval views on death and suicide. I'm amazed that any Christian who looks to heaven can willingly insist that someone with no will to live any longer MUST suffer and make suffering for the ones they love until some "critical" body part wears out.
I could not say I love anyone that I made endure suffering: physical, emotional, mental. If you think you can confront God and say "I kept her from killing herself so you could decide when," don't be surprised if He says "I loved her enough to let her decide when she could stand no more, and you didn't love her enough to let her go." Cause the God I believe in would say just that. I hope the Irish courts know that God.