Saturday, 6 July 2013

Fighting Rommel In The Desert

I am thinking this morning of Winston Churchill, or more precisely of his speech in September 1942, his reflection of victory over the German army and General Rommel in the Battle of Egypt. It was the first major victory for the Allies in WWII. In his speech at Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, he shared news of the victory, then reminded his audience that wars are won, not with a battle in the midst but with the last battle.

His most famous quote from that speech is "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." That is how I am beginning to look at my war with ALS. It began, unbeknownst to me, in the early spring of 2011, perhaps sooner; I don't really know. I am now well past 2 years with a disease where most die within 3 to 5. I am handicapped, a paraplegic who struggles with the most ordinary of tasks. I have just had a heart attack and have even more limitations on me. My body is a mess yet my will to fight stays on.

I am seriously depressed, something not surprising given what I have just gone through. My son is struggling deeply with his ability to help me, to be with me. Other support systems to not appear obvious in terms of living my life on my own terms. It would appear that the time may be nigh were I am compelled, unwilling as I am, to live my life on whatever terms it gives me. No more boat; no more ocean sailing trips.

It may be the end of the beginning of my fight with ALS. It is certainly not the beginning of the end. I have a lot of fight in me. Yet I know that the last battle of the war will not be won by me. It is the nature of living and dying that death is always the ultimate victor over corporeal life. Between then and now there are great victories to be won, glorious battles to be fought, power filled life to be lived. Yet still it is a war I am destined to lose.

I am not giving up; I am struggling with the transition from the beginning of this disease to the middle of this disease. It has gone all too quickly. Soon I will struggle with the transition from the middle stage to the end stage. This is how it works. The beginning of this disease has ended. The end of this disease will begin soon enough. Now I am in the middle of it, fighting Rommel in the desert.

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