I walked into the council chambers, my high heels making clicking sounds on the polished tile.
I tried to make myself invisible and slip unobtrusively past all the people in wheelchairs, but it was difficult, as there seemed to be lots of them.
I smiled at them. They smiled back and the meeting began.
I continue to watch them discreetly, making careful doodles in my notebook, like I was really taking notes.
They came, many of them in wheelchairs, wearing courage and smiles and bearing carnations and carrying signs saying ‘we will end MS.’
It seems they were here because the mayor had agreed to declare the month of May, MS awareness month. And so, they came to say, ‘thanks.’
They were a cheerful lot, tossing smiles and cracking jokes and laughter about the somber council chambers like so many Frisbees that had somehow got misplaced from the sunshine and the beach.
I made meaningless doodles in my notebook until it was time to snap a picture of the signs and the people and the wheelchairs and the smiles.
Finally, they leave. They carefully maneuver their wheelchairs around the council table, being careful not to disturb that hallowed space where huge decisions have been made, and will, no doubt, be made in the future.
I continued to doodle little stick men in my notebook, but I could hear their chatter in the background, echoing past the squeak of the wheelchair lift and the slamming of the handicapped van door.
After they left, the council agenda seemed a little less important, somehow.
MS awareness, I muse. Let me tell you about it!
MS awareness is trying to get into a parking spot marked handicapped, but being unsuccessful because someone out there is not aware or doesn’t care that you can’t walk.
MS awareness is watching someone you love suddenly develop a symptom, a frightening symptom that they can’t control. Maybe they can’t see or walk or pick up a fork with their right hand. Maybe they can no longer drive. Maybe completing an eight-hour-work day is simply out of the question.
Maybe they can walk, but they feel like they have 50-pound sandbags attached to their legs and if they can actually get in and out of a vehicle, it will take at least a half an hour.
MS awareness is the scream of an ambulance, hospital rooms and waiting.
MS awareness is about lessons. Learning the fruits of the spirit. Over and over again. Patience. Gratefulness. Hope. Faith. Love.
MS awareness is about disability insurance and home care. It about learning the true meaning of the words, ‘one day at a time’. MS awareness is about relishing the moments; the precious, special moments that come, unbidden to each of us. Sunsets, hugs, laughter that bubbles up out of nowhere over nothing very much at all.
Mostly MS awareness is about keeping on. Keeping on, even while you shop for wheelchairs and look at home renovations that include ramps and wheelchair lifts.
MS awareness is watching your eight and nine year old grandchildren fill in the blanks on the T-shirts they wear when they do the MS walk… “we lace up for our mom and our grandpa.”
MS awareness is about remembering the way pussy willows bloom in the spring and crocuses grow, even under the snow.
And, realistically, at least for some of us, MS awareness is not just about a month. It’s about a lifetime!