October 10, 2002
Those of you who read my column regularly may remember I had another relapse of my multiple sclerosis a while back. That was the twelfth time I've had a relapse, but I'm one of the lucky MS people. I recover relatively well from relapses.
Most of the time I work hard at staying healthy and feeling positive, but when sometimes I feel a little sorry for
myself about my physical limitations or about my legs hurting in the evenings, I have a great counter to perk myself up. When I was 21 years old, I was hospitalized for 10 days while I underwent a battery of tests to determine what was wrong with my body. These days were made somewhat endurable by the presence of a friend's younger brother.
Between tests, we talked frankly about our prospects for the future.
At one point, my test results began to indicate dire results. My father, ever an honest parent and doctor, took me for an afternoon drive and tried to prepare me for the news that something was very wrong with my body.
The subsequent conversations between my young hospital friend and I reached new levels of seriousness over the next few days as we supported each other through ever more dire tests.
In the end, I was handed the diagnosis of MS while my friend had leukemia. He was given a prognosis of six months, but only lived three. He was 17 years old when he died.
So preoccupied was I with my own diagnosis that I never saw him again after I left the hospital.
Recently, I received an e-mail called The Story of the 1,000 Marbles.
The marble story went something like this. A person lives for an average of 75 years. Fifty-two weeks a year for 75 years is 39,000 Saturdays. If you were to fill a jar with marbles and take out a marble each Saturday . . . well, you get the idea.
This idea of measuring your allotted Saturdays, while a tad morbid, did set me to thinking about that long ago summer of my 21st year and of my young friend.
When I was diagnosed at 21, I'd lived for 1,092 Saturdays. And oh, what
Saturdays they'd been. The Saturdays of my childhood were brimming with family vacations, loud discussions around the kitchen table, swimming at our cottage, cookouts in the woods
behind our house, new kittens and puppies, playing with friends, riding my horse, sitting on a canvas tarpaulin in the living room roasting hot dogs in the fireplace, Christmas mornings, Sunday afternoon family drives,
birthdays . . .
If 1,092 had been the sum total of my Saturdays, I would not have been ill served for they were never wasted
Saturdays or neglected Saturdays. They were Saturdays full of time with my parents, siblings and friends, with love, laughter, wonderful conversations, fireworks, good food and so much more.
But unlike my young hospital friend, I've been blessed with so many more Saturdays.
And, oh, what Saturdays they've been . . . full of days with friends, my marriage, mornings with my husband in our own home, sunrises on Nose Hill, visits home to Nova Scotia, babies growing in me and lying safely delivered in my arms, walks with my
children, my pets and my friends, and more good health than poor.
That well-worn saying about living each day as though it were your last has much meaning for everyone who has ever suffered a life-threatening
experience or lost a loved one. Life has a special savour that despite the usual vagaries of regular life allows us to see the world always, always through changed eyes.
May I never take a single Saturday for granted.
As the marbles in my jar diminish, the space is being inexorably stuffed to bursting with memories of how blessed I've been to experience all these extra Saturdays.
May you, too, be blessed with
Saturdays that make your soul sing and fill your mind and heart with
memories that comfort and nourish you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving!
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