I do boxing, Parkinson’s boxing. Our coach often says: “Come on you lot, try and make it look at least a bit like boxing, eh.” Those are powerful words. They convey a bit of everything: humour, challenge, reality. Because, let’s face it, if you’ve started boxing in your 50s and you’ve got Parkinson’s, it doesn’t always look a lot like boxing.
I’m living my Life. A Parkinson’s life, a sorrowful life, a joyful life, a mother’s life, a social life. Every now and then, I think to myself: “Come on Robijn, let’s try and make it look at least a bit like Life, eh.” Because I know that it’s not that easy to make it look like Life. Not that I really know exactly what I mean by ‘Life’.
You mustn’t fall apart
Someone once said to me: You mustn’t fall apart because of your grief. At the time, I felt like that was a pretty hopeless statement. What? So, I’m not supposed to fall apart over the loss of our daughter? Was my Life meant to be separate from hers? Strangely enough, you soldier on. Because there’s no alternative. But all the time you’re thinking: “Come on … try and make what we’re doing here look at least a bit like Life, eh.” Not that you really know exactly what you mean by ‘Life’.
What should that Life look like then?
Your entire life, you’re imagining what that Life should really look like. You have a go at pretty much everything – you meet people, make friends, have children. When something else bad happens, such as Parkinson’s, you scream blue murder. Your Life suddenly no longer resembles that vague image you’d been cherishing deep in your heart, soul or mind. A few years on and I must admit that it wasn’t quite so bad, all that blue murder business. But I didn’t realise that then. At the time, I only saw an exaggerated version of everything I thought that I’d lose: my health, my future, everything. In retrospect, it’s not surprising that the first thing you think upon diagnosis is: “Come on …shouldn’t at least look a bit like Life what we’re doing here.” Not that I really knew exactly what I meant.
I reckon everyone knows roughly what it should look like, that Life. I reckon everyone hears a sort of echo from long ago. Maybe even before you planted your own little baby feet on earth, so to speak. Somehow you just know what it should look like. At least a bit. That’s why you’re so frightened by everything that threatens that image.
Incidentally, I don’t know many people whose Life perfectly resembles that image of long, long ago, before those baby feet. I do know a lot of people who, day in day out, are doing their utmost to make it look at least a bit like Life. They typically do that with other people. Together they make collective memories. I’m trying to do that too. Because I also want it to look at least a bit like Life. Hang on a minute. Not a just bit! A lot. More than a lot.
Let’s just do a bit of Living!
Recently, I impatiently retorted: “Come on coach, let’s get on with boxing!” All those instructions, when all I wanted was to do a bit of boxing with my boxing buddies. Have a bit of fun, enjoy a bit of exercise, just get on with it! Come to think of it, maybe that should be your mantra: “Come on, let’s just do a bit of Living!” No instructions on how to deal with Parkinson’s, loss, work, stress, flu, that leaky bathroom or taxing tax form. Come on, let’s just roll up our sleeves and get on with it! I know you know what I mean.