You know how it is. You get a new car and then you see them everywhere. It's like that with wheelchairs. I can't believe that I'm studying people's wheelchairs now and silently evaluating their condition based on the type of wheelchair they have.
Tonight we went to the movie. Ubaldo and Jed met me there as they had just come from therapy and I from the shop. Prior to their arrival I watched a woman help a man, presumably her husband, out of the car and on to the wheelchair. For the unknowing, this seems simple, but there are so many steps. Park. Open trunk. Lift out wheelchair (which are very heavy, even the lightest). Set in place. Move legs. Communicate. Stand and lift. Place in chair. Adjust. All this is the life of the wheelchair bound and the caregiver/wife. I watched, and as I watched I told myself, "she has no idea that I do this very thing many times every day." I just watched.
Within a few minutes Jed and Ubaldo drove up. Getting out of the van is simple as the rear drops out and the wheelchair can just roll out. We were on the way to the movie and Jed saw the couple that I had just watched. He said, "go over there, I want to talk to him."
We did. "Hey, buddy, how are you doing. I'm just like you, I'm a quadriplegic." He smiled. She responded. "He has MS. He's been like this for 10 years." "Keep it up, buddy. Us old guys, we just gotta keep going." We went on to the movie.
But "10 years" stuck in my head. She looked good. She looked settled. She looked tired. Ten years. She's been taking care of him for 10 years. I don't know the history, but right now, he's much less functional than Jed, and she's out there, taking him to a movie and living life. What a remarkable tribute to them both.
We've been at this for one year and a little more. It's been really hard. But 10 years? My God! The endurance of people is beyond my ability to understand. We are bearing more now than we ever thought we could, but we are accutely aware that it is nothing. People bear the unbearable and make it look quite okay, even beautiful.
So tonight, I offer a prayer to the couple who passed through our awareness tonight. May they carry their burdens with grace and comfort and may they have no more. May they know God who somehow makes it easier.