Yesterday was a difficult day. I was coming off a very busy weekend followed by a round with a virus that left me feeling a bit weak. The real stimulus for my malaise, however, was a wonderful choral concert that we attended the evening before. I found myself immersed in music that I love, satisfied that even the detailed musical mechanics of such a performance were smoothly, effectively used to make fine music. It was an excellent concert!
So, one might wonder, why the malaise? I used to sing such music, perform with such groups, with ease, with the confidence of a well-trained musician. A master’s degree in voice goes hand in hand with a lifetime of singing with fine choirs. Yet, there I sat, listening, watching as my friends and colleagues presented music that I can no longer sing. I have made peace with losing the coordination and muscle memory necessary to play the organ. I’m still working through losing my classroom and young music students. But I didn’t see the vocal issues coming…
Surely, I’ve read much, researched this Parkinson’s thing to the nth degree. I know the voice is a muscle. I know researchers have discovered anomalies that appear in the voice long before definite diagnosis is made. Somehow, I naively thought I could outrun at least this part of the syndrome…
Yet, here I am, again, struggling with depression, focusing on what I have lost to this very personal Beast. This is not going away…it is not going to get better! I am locked in a war, fighting for my very existence. It’s insidious, working stealthily, ever so gradually diminishing my abilities, inexorably shrinking my world. Even though I have been given remarkable reprieves with advanced medical intervention, the progression continues, and sometimes, reality slaps me in the face.
Enter the battalion forces and battle strategies that have become a very real part of my life as well: friends who catch me in those moments of self pity, colleagues who carry on in spite of their own afflictions – who have learned to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation! We are all climbing a huge, steep mountain with challenges that will not end until we are gone from this world. The coping strategies we put in place at the beginning will be challenged again and again as our personal futures unfold.
There is a large part of me that wants to hide, to just give in and let nature take its course. But that would mean, for me, losing contact with family and friends, giving in to the darkness of depression that is constantly nipping at my heels…not an acceptable path, for me, at least. Sooooo, with Pollyanna ‘s proverbial determination to always look for the positive, I choose to look at the good parts of my life:
This morning, I was wide awake at 5:00 a.m. Some nights I just wake up early. Rather than fighting it, l hit the Keurig machine on the way to my favorite easy chair in the living room. It’s still dark outside, but I turn the Christmas tree lights on as well as those in the garlands on the mantle and the bay window. It’s quiet, peaceful, warm under my favorite blanket. This room is full of good memories. The Christmas tree literally is a record of 5 generations of my family! I have so very much to be thankful for! Today has the makings of a good day. And I haven’t even started playing the Christmas music yet.