My right hand used to be so strong! I could do anything I wanted with it and consider that perfectly normal. These days, whenever I see my right hand, I know: you used to be so strong. You’re doing your best, but you’re definitely not what you used to be. And my heart breaks a little.
I used to have decent handwriting. These days I do all I can to attempt a legible scrawl. Whenever I place my signature or write my name, I know: I never used to realise how pleased I was with my handwriting. I still love my gallant attempts, but my heart breaks a little.
I used to stride confidently through the city centre, never once lagging behind. These days I have to make a concerted effort to keep up with the others. Whenever I notice my family or friends walking briskly in front of me, I know: I’m glad I can still walk, but my heart breaks a little.
I never used to think about my daily structure, I’d just get on with things. I would eventually crash out in bed before reading for another hour. These days I have to build in rest periods. Whenever I take a rest, I know: I used to have all the energy in the world and was totally oblivious of it. I love the things that I can still do, but my heart breaks a little.
I never used to think about the things I could do. I found it all quite normal. Worse, I was actually proud. As if it was all on my own merit.
And you think: will people no longer see that my right hand was once so strong? Will people no longer see that I used to have such steady handwriting? And what about that walking business? Should I tell them that I used to have the gait of a gazelle? Should I tell them about my once full-on agenda?
Will people no longer be able to see who I actually am and what I can actually do? These days my right hand sometimes trembles, my leg tends to shuffle, and I can rarely grip a pen tightly enough. And will they know just how much I could cram into one single day if … if …. only I didn’t have this ffng Parkinson’s.
Part of me still thinks that I’m not missing anything at all, that it’s sort of temporary. That I haven’t really had to relinquish some of the most beautiful things in life. That my identity hasn’t really been compromised.
And there’s the problem: am I still the same person, with all that’s missing? And does anyone see what’s missing? Do they give me another identity?
You can see from someone’s eyes who they used to be, how they once were, what they could do. You can see that inner struggle when they’re no longer capable of what once came so naturally. You can see exactly what they miss so badly from before. How you deal with this missing element, I’ve no idea. I, too, am simply muddling by.
It’s how you deal with yourself, that matters. That’s what your environment sees. And perhaps thinks: Now there’s a tough cookie if ever I saw one! Today somebody actually called me a tough cookie. As if I could do anything and everything. Perhaps you can see what I used to be able to accomplish, after all.
Tough cookie. Powerful words. As powerful as a strong right hand.