Disease, Desires & Decisions

I really don’t know where to begin this tonight. Last night I had an in-depth conversation with a friend. It went from one end of life to the other. We discussed everything from childhood, to mistakes made, to counseling and briefly touched on how to tell what love actually is since so many people really don’t know if they’ve ever truly experienced it. The conversation passed almost too quickly because some of the topics could have been discussed in much greater length. However, when everything was said and done I had a few thoughts that raced through my mind from one particular part of the discussion. I’m not sure why, other than I’ve had many friends who have suffered on a daily basis from diseases that they acquired along the way.

As we talked about this and that the person brought up a sibling who had a very unfortunate incident happen to him which was beyond his control. Through the course of his marriage things started getting off track and his spouse searched for the answer in all of the wrong places. In the end she acquired and passed something on to him that would kill most normal people. However, I’ve heard in my friend’s voice how much she respects her brother so I know that he must be strong inside to fight the battle within that so many other people would lose focus with. Many people would become angry and take it out on the world.

We don’t have a lot of control over who we fall in love with. Love is a choice and not a feeling. We choose to love a person even with all of their faults. The reason we choose to love is because they help us become a better person. Too many people get lost along the way and claim that they have “lost” the feeling. That’s where it becomes so sad. Love is not a feeling. Yes, in the beginning it is overwhelming and might bring butterflies to our stomachs, but as years pass by we wake up every day with the ability to make the choice of giving our love. Too many people forget that and they search elsewhere for the answers.

Well, in the end her brother came down with what I would label as a catastrophic illness because his immune system didn’t have the ability to fight anything off. This came about from another illness that he contracted along the way. His wife eventually left him. I’m not sure, but if I was in his shoes I might have packed it in at that point. I would have figured that I would never find love again and that nobody would ever want to be around me. When I was much younger I had a different opinion on the whole thing, but as I’ve matured I’ve realized that you come across very few people in a lifetime that bring out the best in you and you bring out the best in them. I know many people who insult others and hide in fear because of the diseases that so many different people face.

One of my best friends in college suffered from Tourette Syndrome. I still remember the first day I ever met him. I labled him, just as everyone else did. I didn’t know him and I didn’t know his inner soul or who he was as a person. He had many quirky actions and I was pretty sure that he suffered from a severe cocaine habit. After I researched a little bit I learned that he suffered from Tourette’s. Before that time I never knew anything about the disease other than what I heard when people made fun of of the ones who suffered from it. At that point in my life I knew that I would never be one to cast stones or pass judgment on anyone, no matter what battle they faced within. My friend Steve was not responsible for contracting the disease. I saw girls shy away from him because it was like he was a two headed monster. However, I saw the real Steve. He was one of the most compassionate, understanding and helpful people I’ve ever met in my life. As the years passed I felt honored to be his friend. I also knew how many people missed out on a wonderful person because they had an image of a disease which overshadowed everything that he was about. When I got married 10 years after graduating from college Steve was my only college friend who attended the wedding. Once again I fielded all sorts of questions about what was wrong with him. People thought he was shit-faced and made fun of him. A few even made fun of Tourette’s after that night.  It saddened me greatly as it still does today. Steve eventually met a wonderful woman who accepted his disease and helped him become the best version of himself. They went on to have 2 wonderful children. He is now an attorney on Long Island………………….yes an attorney where he helps underprivileged people.  His wife could have missed out on the miracle of her life if she too had labeled him by his disease and the complications that go along with it. I’m thankful that she didn’t pass him by because he is still one of the most truly inspiring people that I have ever spoken to in my life.

Well, in the conversation my friend explained to me that her brother seemed to be in a peaceful place in his life again and that he even had a girlfriend. I have to commend the woman because she too has to be one of the greatest people out there to accept someone with their faults, look beyond them and explore the person inside. I can’t begin to imagine what he goes through on a day to day basis, but I can imagine how depressing it must get, especially when you have so much to give and someone passes you up because they can’t get beyond something that was no fault of your own. He now suffers from a poor choice made, but not on his part. It goes back to one of my favorite quotes. “Loving someone is giving them the power to break your heart.” Sometimes when we do this we don’t have any control where our lives will end up.

I acquired diabetes when I was little. Once again it’s a disease that I have no control over. As with all diseases, in reality we don’t have any control over any part of it, other than educating ourselves and those around us as we battle it every day. Too many people don’t know all the facts and base judgment due to what they’ve heard or the negative connotations that come along with the diseases. I know how hard it is to live with a Type 1 diabetic and I commend anyone who helps someone with the disease. You have to deal with mood swings, chronic worry and an awareness of all the acute senses that you might not have noticed before.

When we were in the beginning of the discussion my friend said a few things that in some ways irritated me. I think it’s because we stand so differently and I’ve seen people battle a variety of diseases that they acquired through absolutely no fault of their own. It made me instantly realize that some people might simply have compassion enough to overlook what might seem like a giant mountain in order to see what the future might hold for them, or they might turn their back and walk away into the sunset without ever seeing the person for who they were inside which in the end is the most important quality of any.

As the discusssion went on I asked her what she would do if her significant other became paralyzed or was suddenly strickened with a terminal illness. Would she leave or would she stay and support the person because of who and what they were inside? Her answer surprised me due to her comments in the beginning of the conversation. She didn’t even hesitate when she said that her significant other would have her undying support no matter what happened. Once again it made me question what she would do if she ever encountered a situation like that of her brother. He’s family and she loves him to death. I can hear it in her voice and see it in her face when she speaks of him. I thought about what I would do. To be honest I really don’t have an idea what I would have done when I was younger, but now that I’m older I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I’ve had enough experiences along the way to realize that there are very few diamonds in the rough. I don’t think very many people ever get an opportunity to meet someone that is really good for them in all aspects of life.  If I met someone now who faced an internal battle every single day I’m almost positive that I could overlook almost anything in order to give me the internal happiness that so many people search for and never find. I may be wrong, but I think that’s what I would do. I would educate myself, be supportive, understanding and I would go forward with my life. I would make the best of an opportunity that was presented to me because so many other people passed it up due to their negative beliefs associated with the condition. This is where life is so amazing.

My friend Steve’s character is simply unbelievable. I still think of all of the women who passed on him because of the negative connotations associated with his disease. In my mind they are all fools. It goes back to something I was told a long time ago. If someone can’t accept you for who you are and what comes along with you, then they are not of good enough character to be involved in your life anyway. I’m not sure I really believe that, but I guess in the end it’s probably true. I feel for all of the people that have to live in fear every day of being rejected, especially when they find someone that they really fall for, who could be the one, yet they walk away because of something that the person had absolutely no control over. It has to be devastating and I can’t imagine the agonizing moments that some people must encounter when they’re in a position like that.

I read a few quotes today from Andy Rooney that kind of rings true to everything I’ve written about tonight and I firmly believe both of them. The first one is, “I’ve learned that love, not time heals all wounds.” Nothing is said better than that. I think of her brother once again here and hope that he will find a new love that will accept him for who he is and that he will be able to be loved and more easily forget the unfortunate battle that he fights.

The other one is, “I’ve learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.” That sums up all of my thoughts for this evening. Although I don’t know her brother I will pray for him and all others such as my friend Steve that battle every day. When these people find that special hand to hold and especially a heart that understands they will be so much further ahead than they ever could have imagined. However, the journey is long and there are so few people that can look beyond things of this manner that it has to be one of the most terrifying things ever faced by anyone.

I could go on and on and on with this topic tonight, but I guess you get my point. Since the day that I met Steve I have always remembered to accept others for who they are, no matter what battle they are fighting. My significance in his life could have been one of the necessary tools just for him to get to the next day back then. Then, once he found his wife all his prayers were answered. There are so few people like her.  I commend all of the people that have the ability to look beyond the surface and into the soul. They look into the soul and see that what they can gain inside is so much greater than any disease that their partner might have. It’s all about being educated, understanding and making a choice to love. Remember that love is not a feeling it’s a choice.

If you meet someone on your journey that is fighting a battle within try to do what your heart tells you to do. I’ve learned along the way that your heart will never lie to you. Even if things don’t work out as you planned, your heart will lead you in the right direction. When your mind and conscious thought get involved is when the problems start to arise. I challenge all of you to treat every single person you know and meet the same exact way. Inside they might be fighting a battle that you never imagined and if you have the ability to love them and it feels right then go with it……………………………..there hasn’t been a day yet that Steve’s wife has regretted her decision. Then again, where are some of those women who passed up a relationship with him because of the negative connotations associated with the disease? He was definitely a diamond lying amongst pebbles and thanks to one person allowing herself to get to know him they are now a perfectly happy husband, wife and two children. I hope my friend’s brother is able to find his way on his journey as well. Everyone deserves to be happy who treats others well. If you can be happy with the one you want to be with it makes it that much better. Time has a way of taking care of all of these things. We must always remember that God will never deliver us into anything that he thinks we can’t handle. That is why bad things sometimes happen to really good people. He knows that they will find a way to survive and be better for it in the end.

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