My Facebook Thoughts

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WE Are The Champions, Of The World

As many of you know I had a sad start to my week by learning a friend of mine from high school had passed away from ALS.  She had mentioned to me, I was a hero to her.  Those words floored me because I never think of myself that way, ever.

I post my confusion on Facebook.  I was additionally humbled by my friends and family's remarks.  Just a few,

Julie Fouts-Smith For some reason you touch her as well as others. Your abilty to connect with people is amazing. I know you touched my life.

Kathleen Messmer Sorry for your loss, Mark! Your words are so true and shouldn't be taken many of us have wished we had just one more time with someone we love..

Gail Plocharczyk your more of the michellin man;) ♥ sorry to hear this but you and Scott are amazing and words cant even say how i feel about you both ♥

Lisa Samuiloff Chandler Stephanie and I talked about you last night. Even my 16 year old daughter thinks you are a remarkable person. Your attitude about life amazes me. I'm sorry about this loss for you but believe there is a reason for everything. I believe you were put back in her life for positive reasons...

Very kind words.  I was beginning to feel better.  I wouldn't call myself a hero yet, but I do feel better.

Then I received an email from another friend that knew my friend that had passed away.  My friend, Jerny, is a physical person.  By that, I mean, she is a trainer, a runner, an athlete and also a parent.  The coolest thing that Jerny does, in my opinion, she blogs!  Ok, I'm a nerd and I like bloggers.  Jerny wrote a blog last year about Champions.    Here is a link to the blog article.   Jerny nails it with this post.  To summarize her article, a champion can be anyone from anywhere and definitely not in sports.  Then I started to think about heroes vs. champions.

Our society wants and demands champions.  We love and adore heroes.  Heroes are brave and strong.  Champions are fearless and focused.

Then I thought, can a hero be a champion or can a champion be a hero?

I guess that would all depend on how you define both of those two things.  Most would associate champions with sports.   Every league must have a champion at the end of each season.  However, many people call sports stars heroes.  Living in Chicago we have had our fair share of champions, Chicago Cubs not withstanding.  Michael Jordan and Walter Payton were often called heroes.  This can get confusing.

Sports championships are very exciting, I'll admit.  But, after all the parades are over I find little to be inspired about.  I was called a hero and the only sports I play are on the computer.  So there must still be more.

I'm in the group of unsung heroes I guess.  These are the everyday people who get up early, raise families, go to work, help the community, run households, shop with coupons, pick up random trash on the street, let a merging car into their lane.  

A hero/champion is the person who does more when they have nothing left to give.  They'll help others before they'll help themselves.  To me the ultimate hero would have to be Jesus.  He gave is life so we could enter heaven.  All He asked was for people to love each other as He loved us.  So simple, yet so hard for many.

My week started off sad, but I was able to figure out what it all meant.  My friends and family lifted my spirits.  Thank you all for a great week.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

11 Emails

I was forced to do some serious thinking yesterday.  I had found out an old friend from high school had passed away on April 20th.  When I say "Old Friend" I mean that we were friends in high school and that was the last time I had spoken to her until March of this year.

I saw her name on some goofy Facebook app and sent her a message.  I do this often.  I've reconnected with many people from my past.  Family, friends, some closer than others.  Nothing amazing, just your typical updates.  Jobs, kids, spouses, ex-spouses and a vast variety of pets.

This reconnection was different.  My friend, Denise, was dying from ALS.

I know all too well what ALS is.  It's a disease in the same family of what I have, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  ALS is a bastard.  It sneaks up on people.  People that, previously, were perfectly healthy people.  ALS is cruel.  ALS takes all your muscles and basically destroys them.  The really cruel part of ALS is that while your body is being destroyed, your mind remains intact.  You become a prisoner inside your own body.

If you know me you know I can be a bit of a smart ass.  I love life and I try to be as positive as possible.  When I found out Denise was in the later stages of ALS, I knew my standard, "How are you doing?", greeting would be terrible to ask.

Having SMA and being involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association all my life death and dying are always around.  I had a brother, Todd, who died when I was very young.  You get used to death.  I know that may sound weird, but its true.  I've lost count of how many friends I've known to pass away.  Some were closer than others.

Hearing that Denise had died hit me hard.  I couldn't explain why.  I was sitting here in tears because a person I truly hardly knew had died.  It didn't make sense to me.  So I did what I do best.  I thought about it.  I Facebooked about it.  I prayed and talked to God about it, and now, I'm blogging about it.

Denise had sent me 11 emails since we reconnected.  She had a computer setup that allowed her to control her environment with her eyes and her computer.  In one email she called me her hero.  That floored me.  I mean, I know I wear tights and have a long flowing cape, but I would never consider myself to be a hero.  I can't dunk a basketball, I've never scored a game winning touchdown or hit a walk-off home run.  I've never rescued a cat from a boarded up house or chased down a purse snatcher.  How am I, an over weight, unemployed, always flirting with bankruptcy man in a wheelchair a hero?

This is what I came up with.  A hero can be anyone for anyone for anything.  A hero is someone that helps a person get over a hump.  Denise felt all the feelings you could imagine of a person with ALS.  She had been dealing with them since 2005.  When she heard about the details of my SMA that I have had since birth, she felt, I believe, relieved that her life could have been worse.  Maybe I helped her see her pre-ALS life with a clearer focus.  If that is what I did, then I can accept that.

Many of my Facebook friends have offered me some very kind words to me.  I thank all of you.  I don't live my life to make impressions on others.  I am humbled that I have touched even one person. 
(Though I'm sure that case in Kentucky will be settled out of court.)

Godspeed Denise.  Thank you.