High school. High time to get outta there. Had no problem saying goodbye to that. Ever read Lord of the Flies? But that's another story... Anyway, it was definitely time to end that particular story. No problems saying farewell there.
College. It was a near thing... I nearly bailed out of that particular plane earlier than planned (not necessarily wearing a parachute), but I made it through to Actual Graduation and everything. It was Time to go, but somehow it was OK. I did postpone the "going" for a few years (picked up a master's degree in the process) but eventually, really-and-truly Go all the way out, I did. And when I finally said goodbye to that school and that city, it was Time. And it was OK.
The jobs that let me go, and those that I left because I had to. And all of those were definitely OK; some, more OK than others. But each of those endings created a new beginning. And both the endings and the beginnings were definitely OK. One of the endings was spectacularly horrible, but it created a wonderful beginning.
There were girls that I loved, and said farewell to. Sometimes it was my idea; sometimes it was her idea. As one of them said (when she delivered to me the most horrible breakup I ever suffered through), "It, whatever 'it' was, is over." Every ending of those particular stories were very, very painful. But horrible as the break-up experiences were, all of them were necessary. Even the nastiest of them. And it was that very "most horrible experience" that created the most beautiful experience that has ever happened to me... and 25 years later, I'm still married to her. And damned glad of it.
It certainly puts the M.S.-"inspired" changes to our lives into an interesting perspective. The elimination-system challenges that many of us face... Really? That was necessary? It was only that, that was the one thing that was required to create some beautiful new future, that could only have been made possible because we had malfunctioning elimination systems?
This one... I haven't figured out yet.
Others, though, are clearer. Now, I'll admit, I actually enjoy the hand controls in my truck. I enjoy driving the truck now far more than I ever did when it was a manual-transmission vehicle. I enjoy driving the hand controls more than I enjoyed driving the semi-luxurious auto-transmission vehicles that I've owned. And that never would have happened, had I not lost fine motor control in my legs. And when they replaced the manual transmission with an automatic, which is necessary for hand controls, they also replaced the engine with one that had 120,000 fewer miles than the original engine... so I basically got a new (used) car with the new controls.
Connecting me with a completely-worth-the-price replacement vehicle, and enabling me to drive it. A very surprising gift of M.S.
Then again... I'm sure I'll hear someone say (perhaps it'd be me), "But it also means you can't walk unassisted, and can't go up ladders to work on theater lights like you used to, and can't play the organ like you used to, and you've been too scared to even try your bicycle, even on level ground... are the loss of those worth the 'fun' of the hand controls in your car?" Oh, hell no. I wish I still had all those things. But... I don't. (At least, I don't have them right now... one never knows, in the M.S. world, whether things that depart will come back, or whether things that haven't left yet will leave as well.)
But it doesn't mean I can't enjoy my hand controls. A trade? Not in the least. But a benefit? Something that I ... enjoy?
(Grudgingly, he nods.)
Some things that I don't do any more... it was OK for it to be time to set those aside. Except when it isn't. The organ is something I can, and can't, say goodbye to. Some organs are built in a way that enables me to still get away with playing them; I can still deliver a perfectly good, within the context of the event, performance. Even a powerful and enjoyable one! But I can tell the difference, and I remember what I used to be able to do, and I don't like not being able to do what I used to be able to do. I'm still not sure how to handle the "goodbye" to this, yet... To what I can't do (at least, right now), I have to say goodbye... but to the instrument, the organ? That instrument, and what (in the correct context, with the correct instrument) I can still do with it... and all that I have done with it, and what it has always meant to me? To that, I can't bid farewell... not yet.
And yet, with every "ending," especially the most soul-wrenching ones, I've never seen the Great Machine of the Universe fail me... An ending, even horrible, horrible endings, creates a beautiful, beautiful beginning. The Taoists told us this several thousand years ago; up creates down, dark creates light, ending creates beginning. It's the way the universe works.
So, I'm looking at some pretty scary "endings," that M.S. has gifted me with. And I have to be honest with you... scared as I am at what these endings may mean, I know that these endings are gifts.
And those endings are going to gift me new beginnings. M.S. and all. New beginnings that I would have never seen had I not found myself on the M.S. Highway.
And the only way to receive a gift is to accept it with open hands and an open heart.
I'm terrified at what is going to happen. And thrilled for what is to come.
Ah... the gifts of M.S. ...