I have come to dislike the expressions "health is everything" "without your health, you have nothing". I know the meaning behind these sayings, that good health is precious and we should be grateful for it. I totally concur. However, I know people whose health is not good, and they have many gifts, and countless blessings. I remember having a discussion with a Sparkfriend once, who told me about a friend of hers who had been very athletic, always doing one sport or another - being active was a huge part of her life. Then, in her 30's, she was stricken with one of the cruelest ailments that exist - A.L.S., also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. She was slowly, inexplicably, robbed of all of her physical abilities. What the Sparkfriend and I speculated about was - was it harder for her, having been so very active, to lose it, or would it be even more brutal if she had not made the most of her health, and now it was gone?
I, and some of you reading this, have the good fortune to know SParkler Jitzuroe (Bren). Bren is undergoing surgery this morning, as I type this. I asked for her permission to blog about her, and she graciously granted it. She graciously does lots of things. She graciously cheers others on, and encourages, and listens, and empathizes. She graciously lives a life that has been altered by illnesses that affect every part of her life, every part of her body, every day of her life. She graciously keeps going despite pain and other symptoms that never, ever seem to give her a break. She has a loving (and, showing my superficial side here, very handsome) husband who personifies the vows "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health". She has adorable pets, admiring friends, a job, and, despite all of her limitations, an exercise routine. Bren used to run marathons. She used to routinely do all kinds of heart-pounding, sweat-inducing, mood-lifting forms of exercise. Her body no longer allows for this so she, with another beautiful Sparkler, RyderB, routinely does mat workouts which Bren adapts to her current situation. She simply refuses to concede all to the illnesses that come after her with a vengeance on a daily basis. If these illnesses were people, they would be bullies of the worst kind. If these bullies thought they found an easy mark, however, they are picking on the wrong girl.
So, as Bren endures yet another scary surgery, I am several states away and, other than offering prayers (many) and words of encouragement via text and emails, what can I do as a friend? I am exercising today, in honor of Miss Bren. It doesn't technically or practically do a thing for her, but, she is my inspiration and I think all of us like to be someone's inspiration - it lifts our spirits, in my experience. So, today at 5:45am I went on a trail hike. At 9am I ran 3 miles in a sweet, gentle rain (Bren LOVES rain because it eases a couple of her symptoms which heat aggravates), with my sweet
, in a couple hours I am going to do 30 minutes of strength training including planking and push-ups because Miss Bren is a bit of a taskmaster about asking me if I have done my daily plank and push-ups (I have fallen out of the habit lately so today is as good a day as any to resume that strengthening habit), and later this afternoon, I am doing another run, with a dear friend, and I will tell her about what is going on with Bren, because Bren inspires her, as well. Now, do I normally do this much exercise in one day? No, I most certainly do not. Will I be tired and sore tonight? Yes, I most certainly will be. But, as I ran this morning, and I prayed for Bren, and also thought of the woman fighting ALS, two distinct thoughts emerged. One, "fair" and "life" do not belong in the same sentence. Two, of sorrow and regret, regret tends to be more difficult. Sorrow at the loss of one's physical capabilities is a daunting spiritual burden to carry, but regret at not having fully used our physical gifts is a more bitter load to carry around. I have the freedom of time and physical ability today, so I will use it gratefully. I also carry around a hope that at some point, Bren and I will go for a run in the rain together - and I will have to work to keep up. She is one beautifully tough woman and I am honored by her friendship.