I used to read True Crime (mostly murder) books, almost exclusively, for over ten years. I read almost all of Ann Rule’s books, whom I consider the Queen of Crime, and so many others. I was fascinated, enthralled, rapt by the character defects and forensic science and grief that took place in those pages; and I was constantly astonished that these were real stories. Of course, another feeling I had was sadness that the events had ever occurred.
Because I read so many of these books, that sadness would sometimes follow me off of the pages and into my life. Once in a while, I would catch myself being dark and gloomy with my children, family and friends. I would switch to Hollywood biographies, which, ironically, also often held tragic tales, albeit in fabulous settings. After ten years of this, I just got sick of True Crime. How many graphic stories can you read about nice people getting killed? Now, I try to read more with a more enlightened mind, and more enlightening books; usually anyway.
As many of you know, I began fundraising for The Walk to Defeat ALS™ a little over a month ago. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is the disease that my mother succumbed to on June 25, 1983. Last year, my brother was walking with his friend, who had lost his father to this disease, and he asked if I would like to join them. I said yes, and this became another passion for me, so this is my second year of fundraising, and tomorrow is the Walk.
Today, I was in Bob’s shopping for sneakers for the event tomorrow, and I met a woman who said, “I need sneakers for the March of Dimes Walk tomorrow.” I said, “That’s so funny! I need sneakers for the Walk To Defeat ALS™ tomorrow!” and she gave me the “WHAT?” look. I understood that look. Many people do not know what ALS is. So, I have endeavored, however feebly, to educate myself about ALS, so that I could educate others. Along the way, I have become increasingly saddened for those who are now afflicted with ALS. The initial motivation was to honor my mother, but evolved to aiding those who are here now, suffering.
In the past few months, many of my friends have had parents that are ill, dying, or have recently passed away. I have watched each of them and listened to them go through the dreadful grief that accompanies the loss of a parent. It has been heartbreaking for me to live this over and over with my friends, knowing just how they feel, having twice felt that way; having twice suffered the devastating feeling of abandonment. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how old your parent is, the feeling, named or not, is “What am I going to do without my parent?” My heart flies to each of them, and I hope they know how much I care.
There are three seemingly disparate topics above, but they all tie into how I am feeling tonight. When I read the books about victims of murder, I felt dark and gloomy, an unnamed emotion for those I never knew who had been slain so heinously. Fundraising for ALS has made me so very sad for those doomed to die from such a horrible disease. Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a person will suffer in their lives, and I have multiple friends going through this simultaneously. There is a sadness in my soul tonight for all going through their miseries.
There’s a light for me, though. The light is my life, and I am living it now. The more I see how temporal life is, the more appreciative I find myself of the here and now. Is this a product of age, wisdom, experience? Is it just natural to be better prepared as we inch closer to our own demise? I have never felt this serenity before. In the midst of natural disasters, recessions, murders, sickness and suffering, I find myself happy to be alive. The reason I was scared to death of death for so many years is the same reason that I am not so scared anymore. Life is temporal, and we do all die. That fact makes me glad to be here right now, writing to you. It makes what I have so much more important than what I don’t have. I am grateful that although I did waste so much of my life, I still have time to try to make a difference.