Sunday night, 8pm:
I yawn and instantly the right side of my body draws up like an accordian. It hurts, but the sting passes.
8:15-it happens again, but the pain doesn’t pass.
8:30-my left side starts drawing up. I hurt all over.
9:30-I can’t move. My feet and toes aren’t where they should be in relation to my legs; my hands are drawn up in tight fists and tucked under my twisted head and neck. My throat is tight. I can make sounds but not words.
10:00-For once, I have my cell phone on the sofa table instead of in my purse. It is difficult, but I reach for it and manage to speed dial Sam & Edie. Sam answers but I can’t tell him what is happening. The phone drops to the floor. Within 2 minutes, Edie has unlocked my front door and both she and Sam rush in. Sam picks up all 125 pounds of me and my dead weight and carries me to his truck. Edie cradles my head in her lap and covers me with a blanket. Sam drives and Edie keeps holding me tight. We arrive at the hospital and after that, I don’t remember very much.
By morning, the worst has passed and although drugged-up I can start to make sense of what has happened. I know two things for sure: 1) My MS has flared up for the first time in over three years, and 2) I would probably have died had it not been for Sam & Edie.
Today is Tuesday and I am home. I’m moving slow and my muscles are about as sore as they have ever been, but God knows I am grateful to just be mobile and breathing. God also knows that I am humbled by the love and compassion of my two heros Sam & Edie. I’m grateful for other things too, like being able to move my fingers over this keyboard, making it to the bathroom by myself, and managing to love on my dogs without getting slobbered to death. Still, these things pale in comparison to the love of God and the love of my two rescuers.
I didn’t want this piece to be about me or multiple sclerosis. I wanted this piece to be about Sam & Edie. I wanted to thank them for being there and knowing me and caring for me; but the expressions of gratitude are too deep for mere words. Besides, Sam & Edie deserve more than words. But they aren’t the kind of folks who would be comfortable with public accolades or medals of recognition. I owe a a debt of gratitude that requires more than a passing word or a pretty, flowered, elegantly-versed thank you card. It is a debt to be paid over time–in the things I think about, pray about, remember deeply, and act on.
Perhaps my rescue story will inspire something that is all too seldom overlooked in this world–the power of selfless compassion and the humility (not humilation) of mercy. Real rescuers are humble missioners, not glitzy superheros. They’ll pick you up in their arms and carry you, they will quietly comfort and assure you, and they will stay with you until the end.
Although it sounds ridiculously shallow when juxtaposed to the reality of what they did for me, “Thank you, Sam. Thank you, Edie. I love you.”