After Sam died, I wasn’t sure if I would ever stop crying.
For weeks, I cried daily, sometimes multiple times in one day. We all cried like that. Sometimes it would be slow, soft crying, with tears running down my cheeks one at a time. Sometimes I cried so hard it hurt. Sobbing, really. Tears would stream down my face, wetting my shirt, running into my mouth. Snot would stream down as well, and eventually, my eyes would swell almost shut from the process.
Over time, the crying slowed, then mostly stopped. Not that I wasn’t still grieving, I will grieve for the rest of my life.
Then, in May 2019, my husband was diagnosed with ALS. And I cried. We cried. Again, sometimes slow, quiet tears. Sometimes loud sobs. I cried in anger. Frustration. Disbelief. Grief. Fear.
Slowly, the tears mostly stopped. It’s not that as we cross over some milestones in this process that I don’t cry, because I certainly do, but not like I did in the beginning.
At first, after the diagnosis, I joined Facebook groups about ALS. Less than a week later, I had to leave them. The daily list of hell people were going through, or their deaths left me terrified and sobbing.
Then, I rejoined, and I found hope, a sense of community, and practical answers to my questions. Suggestions. Humor.
And love. Relentless love.
Those groups, those posts, became a daily part of my life, and still are. They keep me focused on love and advocacy. They remind me that no matter how daunting the situation, you can always find love and humor, and always, always find something for which to be grateful.
In the course of this, I started following one particular pALS (patient or person with ALS). A devoted family man, a teacher, someone with a great sense of humor. Almost every day, I would tell my family about one of his posts. He talked about the daily progression of ALS with brutal honesty and humor, as did his wife.
Over the last few days, I learned he is about to transition to his next phase of existence in this universe. Logically, I had known that for a while. But reading the posts announcing his entry into the last phase? I cried.
No, I didn’t cry. I cried long enough to tell my husband and youngest son why I was suddenly in tears while we were watching The Voice.
Then I sobbed. I sobbed for the injustice of the FDA loudly and clearly showing they don’t care about ALS patients. I sobbed for husbands and wives, losing the loves of their lives. I sobbed for children robbed of parents and grandparents. I howled through my tears for siblings, watching their brothers and sisters wither away.
Finally, the tears stopped, and I sat and gave thanks. I gave thanks for a husband who understood why I was crying for someone that I’d never had the chance to meet in person. I gave thanks for a son who just quietly hugged me when I came back to the TV room. I gave thanks for friends and family who are with us every step of the way.
No matter how deep the grief, the sadness, there is always something that brings light and hope, and for that, I am so grateful.