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Piece by Piece


“To be bitter is to attribute intent and personality to the formless, infinite, unchanging and unchangeable void. We drift on a chartless, resistless sea. Let us sing when we can, and forget the rest..”
H.P. Lovecraft

I cried today because I threw away a covered tin that was originally filled with little wrapped sweets.  I used to have dozens of tins of varied sizes and colors.  You know the ones I mean, the kind that those Danish Butter Cookies that people who want to give you a gift but don't know you very well or know what you like tend to give at Christmas. You save them to give away your own homemade baked good during the holidays.  Holding up the Cadbury's Heroes Tin, I looked at John and asked, "Do you think I should just throw this away?  I mean, I guess with these hands I'm never going to make Christmas cookies by the dozens again, am I?"  He said, "Oh throw the damned thing away.  Throw them all away.  Who cares?  We'll buy cookies."  So I threw the tin in all of it's shiny gaudy purple Cadbury's Heroes glory into the kitchen trash can.  And then I cried a little.

It's hard to explain to regular people why I cried.  I cried because throwing away that stupid tin I dragged all the way back from England wasn't about the tin.  It wasn't even about the cookies.  I cried because every so often some really little thing like throwing a way the tin sneaks up and slaps me in the face, reminding me that I have a handicap.  Most of the time, I'm pretty unaware of it.  Well no, let me rephrase that...most of the time I refuse to acknowlege, even to myself, that I have anything wrong with me. 

I can't do up buttons or zippers.  When I want to go to the bathroom, I have to ask someone to do the zippering and buttoning for me.  People say, "Why don't you wear pants with elastic waistbands?"   I can't write any more.  I am down to typing with two fingers.  People say, "why don't you just make an X on your checks?"  "Why don't you get Dragon Speak for the computer?"  There are so many small motor things I can no longer do.  The list is huge.  Just imagine going through your day wearing mittens.  And then, just imagine, if you've been right-handed for almost fifty years, having to retrain your brain to recognize that you are now left-handed and to send all messages to what used to be "the wrong hand." 

What I have learned is this. I won't wear elastic waist pants because that's not a style choice I'd make if I didn't have these hands.  I won't make an X instead of struggling to sign my name because I used to have beautiful writing.  And, for Chrissakes, I used to teach cursive handwriting, beautiful, perfect Zaner-Bloser penmanship.  I'm not ready to make only one letter of the alphabet to represent Me, Dana.  I'm more than that.  I am unique; and, by the way, so are YOU.  We're more than any X can signify. I won't use Dragon Speak on this computer until there is absolutely no other way for me to have written communication, no other way for me to stay in touch via email or to mess around on Facebook or do this sometimes neglected but always loved little blog of mine. 

I guess the bottom line is this...I will persevere until I just can't.  I've learned humility since that diagnosis of Multifocal Motor Neuropathy fourteen years ago.  As the disease has slowly progressed, I've learned to ask for help.  Learning that was such a huge huge psychological obstacle for me to overcome.  Asking for help goes against my stubborn, independent nature. But, I did learn to ask for help and in doing so I learned how very wonderful my fellow humans are, how pleased people are to be asked, how good it makes others feel to help someone in need. I guess one day, I'll wear those ugly old lady stretch pants.  And, one day I'll do Dagon Speak, but you won't know it.  That's part of the beauty of cyber space, we're all perfect here.  Look at Stephen Hawking and his exquisite mind.  He's a superstar in pixels. 

Until any of those days come though, I am remaining stubborn and hard-headed.  I believe that everytime I give something up because I have a handicap, because whatever it is frustrates me, because it's too hard or because I have to find a new way of doing it or because I have to ask for help, everytime I hesitate or give up doing it, I am giving up a piece of me, a piece of myself and what I like and what I do and what I want to do for others that gives both them and me pleasure.  Pretty soon,I am afraid that if I do the giving up often enough, sliver by sliver, piece by piece, there won't be any of me left.  I'll dissolve into nothingness and disappear.  I don't want that to happen.

All that being said, the final thing I wish to say is that none of you are getting Christmas cookies from me this with it.

"Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too."

- Lawrence Bixby


Reader Comments (4)

I SO get this. Although my physical limitations aren't so concentrated in one body part (well, maybe other than the arthritic knee), I too am resisting accommodating them. I had to get orthotics - I haven't worn high heels ever.. but I'll be damned if I'm going to buy those "old-lady shoes" they're supposed to fit into. Yeah.. it's like every small concession is another acknowledgement (and evidence) of loss. If I get to Florida between now and Christmas we can make cookies together, and we can go out and buy tins just for the purpose.

September 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHavi

It's ok about the cookies. I don't eat wheat and sugar and the dog's fat enough.

September 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwitm

This made me cry a ittle too. Because you have to give up so much that you love and are good at doing and it hurts you. And because I'm not getting cookies.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Talking of writing an x, when I was young I spent my time reading historical novels. My mother took me to the post office and wanted me to sign a form in my name. Head filled with my latest story that I had just read, when she handed me a pen and said sign across there. I did, she was so angry when she saw I had proudly signed a cross in the space meant for my name. I still llugh until the tears come when I remember my angr,y and thinking about it, embarrassed mother. As far as I was concerned I did what she asked, signed a cross. Jill

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill

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