It wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
In May, I'm going to be participating in a walk with my friend, LOG. We shouldn't have to do this. She shouldn't have to do this.
This is a picture of my friend, LOG, with her mom, M. No, those aren't weird, stupid acronyms or nicknames to protect their identity. Those are their names. To those who love them, they are LOG and M. This picture was taken at LOG's bridal shower in 2007. You can see how happy they are and how close they've become. M was so thrilled for her daughter. She was so happy she'd found someone she loved to spend her life with, and that they were equally nuts about each other. She'd found happiness with her husband, T (also his real name), and she knew LOG and John were going to have a long, happy life together.
This is a picture from LOG and John's wedding. LOG's caption? "My absolute favoritest picture of me and my parents."
M & her husband, T. They're young and happy and thrilled to be celebrating their only child's wedding day. I wasn't there, but from what LOG's told me, M danced the night away at her wedding and shut the party down at the end of the night.
When LOG and John wanted to have babies, M was thrilled. She knew exactly what type of grandmother she'd be, and she wanted to babysit all the time.
Before LOG's first child was born in 2009, M hurt her hand. It wasn't getting better. Before long, her hand was basically useless. At LOG's baby shower, 3 years ago today, M's hand hung at her side and her fingers had curled inward. She couldn't use it, and LOG had been telling her mom for weeks, "You need to get this looked at, because you can't hold your grandson." They were worried, but not too worried. They were confident they'd find the problem and fix it. My memories of that day are clear. LOG was happy and glowing, M was thrilled that she was going to be a grandma, and T gave me crap about giving his grandson a White Sox onesie. They were elated that they got to watch LOG become a mother, because they knew she'd be a damn good one.
Unfortunately, months and months went by, and M wasn't getting any better. Test after test revealed nothing. Because it's a diagnosis of elimination, ALS, Lou Gerhig's Disease, was still an option on the table. Memorial Day weekend 2009 was when the official diagnosis came. LOG will always remember that day. To hear her tell it, I feel like I'm in the room with her. She's home with her son because she's still on maternity leave. The phone rings, and the news she receives is a death sentence. M is upbeat and positive, convinced that she'll beat it. T feels confident that he can save M and that together, they'll show the doctors they were wrong.
By the end of the summer, M is no longer worker. By LOG's son's first birthday, M is wheelchair bound and needed help to do the simplest tasks, things that I take for granted everyday. By LOG's son's second birthday, she couldn't and wouldn't come to the party. M was losing her body to ALS.
It's been 2 years since I last saw M.
Today, she's a fraction of the woman she used to be. I'd post the picture, but for LOG's sake and M's dignity, I won't. It's horrific. She can't speak, or even grunt. Her breathing is shallow. She weighs under 100 lbs. Her eyes are hollow and you can see her bones beneath her skin. A once vibrant, talkative, engaging woman has been taken away, and a dying shell of a human being has replaced her. Her husband, the love of her life, has taken "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" to a new level, one that has played out beautifully over the last two years.
Last night, LOG shared with us that her mom's death was imminent. M's brother has flown into town, and her family is moving to be with her in her last hours on earth. Finally, M's suffering will end.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't supposed to be this way. She was supposed to be a grandma. She was supposed to take her grandchildren overnight so LOG and John could date each other. She was supposed to spoil everyone rotten. She wasn't supposed to die in her 50s, because she had a good 30 years left. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
LOG's children will have no memories of their grandmother. This will be the second grandparent they've lost in a year. It's up to LOG and John to keep their memories alive, and it's not a task I envy.
ALS is a horrific disease. It robs you of basic human dignity. For years, M has been trapped in a body that doesn't work. In a matter of hours, 36 at most, she'll finally be at peace. She'll finally be set free. Unfortunately, ALS gets so little funding because, in the simplest sense, not enough people have the disease to qualify for major government funding. One day there will be a cure, but not soon enough. It's too late for M, but not for someone else. That's why I'm joining LOG in May for the Walk to Defeat ALS. They say it best: Because I Can. I can walk. So that's what I'll do. I have 80 days left to raise $500 in M's memory. Please consider donating, because it's not fair. It wasn't supposed to be like this.
And keep LOG and her family in their prayers as they say goodbye to M.