March 22, 2013

The requirement to charm

I was at the pool today, swimming my laps in the attempt to forestall the onslaught of MS spasms. While I was there, I saw a fellow  "one of us" arrive in a wheelchair, with a helper of some sort, a young lifeguard or physio or something. He spent time leading her around the pool, letting her kick her legs, stand with support, get her unwilling muscles moving.
And all the way around, she was charming him. Joking, smiling, trying to please him.
As we all do. We all tell people we're doing "just fine", we joke about the times we wobble over or burn pots or forget what we were saying or miss the point or have to struggle to walk. And if someone is with us, we try even harder, pulling our lips back, grinning and joking, trying to be charming so that our helpers will stay with us, look after us, enjoy our company.
It's a terrible responsibility, this need to be cheerful through the trials of chronic illness.
But we want company, assistance, friends, so we joke along, not revealing as much of ourselves as we need to to be truly understood in case those around us understand and leave us, alone, in the water, to flounder.

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