I am 55 years old, a two time breast cancer survivor and a 32 year advocate for Multiple Sclerosis as well as being an author, mother of two, and wife of nearly 28 years! I am proud of every one of these things equally. My first book, Living With Multiple Sclerosis: The Ripple Effect, was published in July, 201?. It is a collection of personal essays written in the past two years while I was undergoing some changes in my physical health.
During this time, I experienced a near-death experience which has led to me becoming a more devout Christian. The summer of 2014 was a tough one. I spent ten days in a coma during which time I saw my aunt who had recently passed away. She told me that I could not stay with her, but the sounds, smells, and yes, even colors were both new and at the same time familiar to me. No, I didn’t see God or Jesus, I felt them as I basked in the warmth and peacefulness that overcame me. No, neither of the two spoke to me, but I had such a warm feeling when I was there, that I understood I couldn’t stay. In fact, my Aunt Nancy told me to go home because my children and husband needed me.
Since childhood, I was raised a Christian, attending the local Methodist Church was a regular occurrence for my family. I remember faking a stomachache one Sunday morning to get out of church. With the rest of the family gone, I asked my mom if I could please watch television while I rested on the couch. Her answer surprised me, and I’ve never forgotten it: “If you’re too sick for church, you’re too sick for watching cartoons, and you need to stay in bed.” Mom said it in a very matter-of-fact tone which told me there would be no compromising. I never again faked an illness to get out of church!
I guess it was just ingrained in me from infancy. Sunday mornings are for church. It’s been awhile now since I have attended our church, and I can’t really give a good reason for my absence. Yes, my MS is a fatiguing disease and I never feel truly rested, but that’s not a good enough reason. Steve works on Saturday nights, and I feel guilty waking him on Sunday mornings to take me to church. Speaking of that, it takes at least 3 people to get me dressed, with makeup on, hair coiffed just so and out the door in time for church. I feel guilty asking so much of my family when I’m so dependent on them for so many other things as well.
I know I would feel so much better about myself and others if I would just get up and go! I think I will make that goal my My Mid-Year’s Resolution for 2019… it is better to make a mid-year resolution and stick with it than to allow a year of Sundays to pass us by, right?? I crave the fellowship and sense of belonging that comes with being a part of something that is larger than ourselves. Not everyone needs to feel that sense of connection, and I can respect that. However, I have a need for it. I can read my Bible and pray daily. I can even have a devotional for myself each day, but to me nothing can replace worshiping with others in your desired house of worship.