As I spend each day dealing with the blows that MSA throws my way, I don’t spend one minute feeling sorry for myself. Am I dying? Yes. Are there times when I wish today was the day? Yes. Are there people in worse shape than I? Yes. Illnesses are horrible and can afflict anyone at any time. You don’t want it, you don’t look for it, you don’t choose it, but it impacts your daily life immensely.
What I do think about often are our military. They are, of a sort, suffering from a “condition.” They have to face death everyday just as I do. They have days they just wish it was over. The difference between someone with a debilitating disease such as I have and the military are; they choose to take on this challenge, and they don’t have their family and friends there by their side to help and comfort them.
Even on my worse day, a day that I am nearly completely paralyzed, lying in the comfort of my own bed and being spoon fed by my wife, I don’t feel sorry for myself. Not for one minute because I know there are soldiers out there in much worse shape than I. Why do I think that?
Imagine a day that you wake up, have a headache and your stomach is upset and it’s all you can do to pull yourself up, get a cold wash cloth for your aching head, call in to work and fall back into bed. Most of the time, we have our spouses there to comfort us and answer our beck and call. We’ve all had those days. Now image you wake up in the same condition. You’re not in your comfortable, air conditioned bedroom. You are in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan. It’s 120 degrees. There is no fresh cold water to cool your head, and you can hear the bombs and shooting going off in the distance. There is no option of calling off work. No falling back into a nice comfortable bed. No loved one there to comfort you. That’s what our soldiers face every day.
Even on their best days. Let’s say they are perfectly healthy. Feel wonderful. Full of life and energy. Their life is totally different than ours. There is no 8-5 work day. No cold beer waiting on them when they get home. No cable television so they can watch the game or TiVo their favorite shows. And more importantly, there is no family, no loved ones for them to go home to.
Being deployed has to be worse than being terminally ill. Let’s face it. We are all terminal. There will be an end for all of us. We know that. Some of us have just had a physician tell us it’s coming. We didn’t choose it. But we deal with it. Some more differently than others, but we all have one thing in common; we all know that medical assistance and comfort are just a phone call away.
Being deployed with the military is a whole different animal. These men and women have chosen to put themselves in harm’s way. They face death every day for us. For me and for you. And they don’t even know who we are. That for me is the ultimate gift. Other than Jesus, can you name one other person who has volunteered to give up their life so you can have yours?
I have attended several deployment ceremonies during my time in office. More than I would ever care to imagine. Each one of them were equally heart-breaking. Husbands and wives holding on to each other trying to comfort one another. Fathers hugging their daughters knowing they can’t protect them from what they are about to face. Mothers clinging for one more minute to hold on to their children. Everyone in the room knowing this may be the last time, the last words, the last kiss they may ever have. And to think, every American soldier has chosen to make this sacrifice for me. For you. To make sure we can call into work if we’re ill. To ensure we sleep well at night. To do everything they can to make sure we are never, ever again caught off-guard like we were on that fateful day, 9/11.
So no matter what my day is like, I take a minute to say a prayer for those men and women, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters that make every day I have left on this earth the best day it can be.
Thank you to all the United States Military, both home and abroad. I salute you!