A ‘Thank You’ to the woman who inspired me

My grandmother frequently told me this story about my mom. When my mom was born she was born “in the surron” (enveloped in a protective film).  Among the country people of Puerto Rico this was a very auspicious occasion because it meant that the child would grow up to be highly intelligent.  Many years later this same endearing grandmother would tell me that our Labrador retriever, Kada, was highly intelligent because he was born with a protrusion emanating from the top of his head. How this one came about, I’m not quite sure.

I wasn’t born in the surron, or with a lump on my skull. As a matter of fact, the only bumps I could remember were the cocotazos (lumps) I used to get, from the nuns in Puerto Rico, when that glassy look would change my countenance as my daydreams infiltrated their lessons. Or, when my brother, Brandon, inspired by Saturday Night Live, would hold me in a head lock and impart some Pizza Man (Bill Murray ), nookies upon me.

Unlike my Mom, I was somewhat shy and awkward as a child and had to fight for any kind of scholastic success.  Even as an athlete, my mom was told that I had 2 left feet and would never be much of a runner. I always felt that I had to work harder, in everything, to reach any sort of proficiency.

Upon being diagnosed with MS I felt like that child being dealt yet another blow. A deluge of emotions overwhelmed me as I tried to understand the implications of the disease and how it would impact my life. How much more could I endure? I had lost my grandmother, gone through a bad divorce and survived a horrific car crash. Just when I thought my life was changing, I was engaged and within three weeks of getting married again, life had dealt me yet another blow.

Depression and sorrow was not what I had expected my new marriage to be full of.  The disease, in addition to medications that made me even more depressed, had paralyzed me into a lethargic, self-pitying coma. I became a dragon in my lair; a recluse who did not want to engage in any social activities that would remind me of the pre MS life that I yearned. The passion that I once held for art, reading, and running were ghost like remnants.

After long months of bereavement I finally understood that I could NOT let MS ruin my life. So with my final acceptance I placed a caveat: I would not let MS beat me.

I meditated, started running and writing again.  I continued my book about my experiences with MS called “Rising with Dignity” (copyrighted).  I also decided, with my husband, to hike 817 miles across the state of Arizona to raise awareness of MS. Yet, more importantly I wanted to help others find the strength and courage, inherently possessed, to overcome our fight against MS.

I was starting to become whole again, confident and courageous in my fight against MS . I still had MS but I would stay grounded and not let its talons swoop me away.  I would become that scrappy child again, fighting for what I believed was just – my right to a meaningful life.

And so even though my grandmother gave birth to a child in the surron it was she [my grandmother] who bequeathed each one of us with intelligence, courage and love.  I thank her for the woman I have become.

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