I wake up in a warm bed, my sore body held by puffy comforters. Even though my left side barely moves, my heart is beating, and in spite of any exhaustion, and I can hear the music. My dog is pretending to herd sheep in the hallway and I pull back the gray curtains. A Pavlovian response upon waking, I can smell the coffee before reaching the kitchen to press that magical button causing hot liquid caffeine to flow. The sun casts long golden shadows across the few lemons popping on boughs bending from the weight of midnight rain. My son's long legs hanging off his queen-sized bed. My daughter asleep in a floral robe and mud mask, like a character from a greeting card.
A friend from NY sent a letter...handwritten! I pause briefly to lament the fact that I can no longer write, due to micographia or how I need medication just to move- but I won't linger here. My dog now moving in ecstatic circles, like I'd been gone for a week. He appears mesmerized by the sway of my tattered purple robe as I wander aimlessly around the dining room and kitchen, reading, then muttering.
Whatever discomfort my body feels is being drawn out by simple movement and precious sips from the handmade mug- the one with the thumbprint at the base. It fits in my hand as if it belongs there, and the man who made it has suffered unspeakable grief. I say a little prayer. Since childhood, I've always been the first one up and the last to bed. I have spirits to chat with, cool books to read, places to visit in my head, and need extra time to reflect. We cannot afford to miss a second of this fascinating life! There is no better reminder of this than an incurable and progressive disease, in your brain. It is always lurking, threatening to take everything away. I am ready, yet will push back until my final breath.
I am not the person I used to be, and am incredibly grateful for this fact. Love and fear are potent teachers. The love in this life is infinite, and I'm never alone, even though usually I am by myself. My comrades, inner circle, and fellow Parkie warriors... my loving family, I thank you. There is no gift certificate or dining experience or spa or candle gift that could begin to express my gratitude, yet you deserve this and so much more. Your influence on my life is invaluable. The best I can do after rolling around in it, is to reflect an immeasurable amount of love out into the world. I'll jump into a good ruckus out of my range sometimes too, and usually get knocked sideways. It's alright, parkies can take a hit- and nothing is personal.
I see you. How hard you work to look attractive. It takes a lot to get it all together, however you choose to do that, so remember to give yourself a break. You are beautiful. I wish you could see yourself as I see you. The freckles you try to hide, that crooked tooth, and the lines of your body- all part of what makes you particularly stunning. We try so hard. Despite what advertising yells at us, we are all OK exactly as we are. Even as we seek some form of improvement, we can be perfectly in our own skin. Thankfully, there is variation and diversity so that we are unique and not a planet of cyborgs. I am much more interested in what you have to say, or what you do. Your talents and your work both amaze me. We get a glimpse ourselves in a reflection of one another. Even if we only get to visit on glowing screens, I send you support and love. Let's dance around a fire- howling in our collective mourning or in celebration of our sisterhood.
Thank you for healing me and for being in touch with your masculinity in healthy ways. I have had a hard time trusting some, after a past that had nothing to do with you- and I see you now. I miss my blood brothers and my foster brother, but am rarely in the same city. Your presence (even if it's only online) is so important to me, because I also miss my Father tremendously. He has Alzheimer's. I see your vulnerability beyond your strength, ambition or clever facial hair- it's the most appealing part of you. You make me laugh with your antics, just like my sisters. I send you love and honor your partners. I hope you'll join us around the fire, where you are always welcome.
Mom and Dad,
How can I ever repay you? Now that I have a family of my own, and comprehend the sacrifices you made to give us a life better than you had, I am deeply humbled. Was I a little shit too? My teens are getting us back, no worries! OK, I joke (sort of), your grandkids are indeed kind and thoughtful. If I fail at everything else, I will know our children were released into the world as compassionate and loving individuals striving to be their personal best. I know they will be open-minded and helpful citizens of humanity.
You have saved my life, many times. My feelings for you are beyond language. Thank you for loving me even when I was not so lovable. I am not always easy to communicate with since my hands do not work on tiny keys, and I appreciate you reaching out consistently and in such incredibly generous and thoughtful ways! Thanks for clowning around with me too. Some of us have known one another since childhood, so this is how I remember you. Standing on the playground in your overalls or rainbow shirt, kicking a ball in the air, open-faced and pushing your bangs away. In my memory, your head is always tilted up to the blue sky.
My new family, I don't know what we'd do without each other. This is an unpredictable and treacherous storm. We live in different corners of the globe, with varied life experiences, yet are perilously and forever connected by a terrible uninvited guest. Parkinson's, you are incredibly cruel, but I want to thank you for the gift of friendship. In solidarity, because of our passionate commitment to education and resources, we lift one another. It's magic! For our next trick, let's saw Parkinson's in half! I know where they hide the magic wands, but already released all the rabbits. You can just wear the hat now, OK? We are a vocal group, prone to overstating our cases, but there is no doubt we are all on the same team. What inspiration and fresh joy, even on the worst days!
Without you, I am nothing. Well, we may all be nothing... takes a bit of pressure off, doesn't it? It feels good to know we are connected by blood, and consistently you make me want to be a better person.
Thank you for standing by me, and for your patience as I navigate this wild Parkinson's storm. Your love astounds and delights, with a generous grin that lights up every room. I am fortunate to know you, and incredibly blessed and lucky to get to hold you. You don't flinch when I shake, brave one. You provoke the best in me, and I see the same in you. Thank you for reminding me to touch the ground. There are adventures ahead!
A shout out to our Native American family in The Dakotas. We stand with you, and I'm ashamed at how you have been treated. Everyone I know is horrified or feeling powerless, yet you resist fearlessly their rancid greed. This isn't political, this is clean water, which every living thing depends upon. Once it is lost, we will know our folly. May the naked unvarnished truth reveal itself, before it is too late... in all things.
These unedited sentiments of gratitude brought to you by THANKSGIVING and the Letter L, for Love. May we all enjoy the magic, and the hooks of discomfort this holiday. It's all welcome, today and every day. A playlist called "You aren't from around here" has been published in the SPOTIFY account named Kathleen Kiddo, for your listening pleasure. It was inspired by a lovely muse who is from around here... wherever "here" is.
Thank you for reading, go easy on each other and Happy Thanksgiving!