Have you ever noticed that when you look back on memories from your past, it’s actually the little things that come to mind first? Looking back on my life, I don’t see a collage of all my big memories. Instead, I see a flash of little things that seemed somewhat ordinary at the time. However, it’s those ordinary moments that turned out to be incredibly memorable.
Sometimes I feel like that poor little kitten in that famous poster. “Hang in there,” it reads, as the sweet little kitty tries to grasp that tree branch with all its might. Apparently, this poster is supposed to be motivational. I see it more as a reminder of how hard life is, especially as a Duchenne parent. It reminds me how isolating this life can be, and it makes me realize just how important it is to have support from others who truly understand.
We live in a culture of noise. Everyone wants to talk, but it seems like only a few want to actually listen. I’ve learned so much from being a Duchenne parent. Many other Duchenne parents reach out to me, and I know that the most helpful thing I can do for them is to simply listen. I don’t tell them how to feel or give them unsolicited advice. I just make sure they don’t feel alone.
The doors opened, and we all went in and pressed the appropriate button. The doors closed, and he just stared at him. The old man shook his head and looked at me. With a thick heavy accent, he said, “too young.” I smiled awkwardly, unaware of what he meant. “Too young for a chair,” he said sadly. I nodded quietly, but when my eyes met his, he pointed at my son and asked, “What’s wrong with him?”
I don’t often find myself wishing for a normal life. I love my life, and I don’t see the point in trying to envision what could’ve been had Duchenne not entered into our lives. I try to accept my life just as it is and find joy in it, but somedays I do have moments of sorrow.
I live with one foot in the future. My life is a constant dance between hope and fear. I have the privilege of raising three incredible children, two of which have a degenerative disease. My days are full of joy, but they are also full of the most agonizing kind of pain I’ve ever experienced. I watch as day after day my boys grow weaker and weaker. My daughter is gaining more and more abilities as she grows stronger, while her older brothers are continually losing abilities they once had. Duchenne is a cruel form of torture.
he other day I was in the worst mood. Everything trivial felt heavy and exhausting. Laundry, dishes, homeschool, work, cooking, and cleaning piled up and left me weary. I was tired, worn, and just sick of my own thoughts. The dog chewed something; I yelled. Someone made a mess; I sighed like I was trying to let the neighborhood hear me. I cringe thinking about how ungrateful I sound, but it’s true. That day I was whiny, irritated, and full of self-pity. It was one of those days.
It felt like we were thrown into a raging unfamiliar sea with no idea how to swim. Drowning in emotions, grief, and paperwork, we struggled to adjust to our new life. We were being asked to make decisions about things we knew nothing about. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
People often wonder what it’s like to raise two sons with a degenerative disease. It’s a hard question to answer because it feels impossible to live through, let alone explain. There are no words to express how it feels to watch one son weaken and lose his ability to walk, only to have another son following the same pattern right behind him. My boys are only two years apart, and sadly the disease seems to be affecting them both rapidly.
Our lives can feel isolating, exhausting, lonely, and misunderstood. We are allowed to power down and be still sometimes. Those days can actually let out deep emotions that we’ve pushed down, emotions that need to come out. After a good cry, a restful day, and a whole lot of grace, you’ll feel lighter and ready to face life again.