The ALS Association

Victory Day

Rick J. Dixon, Illinois

The poem that follows is my ALS story. In it, I refer to a "victory day". That is my hope, and my commitment. The words were an assassin’s bullet, causing my mind to explode. No more walking, no more talking, unable to carry my own load. There are no more dull days when your previous breath may be your best. And finding safe footing in the scaling of life becomes your constant quest. My body, once my temple, is now a prison with ever shrinking walls. But my mind, once finite, now let’s me roam an endless maze of halls. Sleep, once an abstract master, became a colleague, my dearest reality. A reminder of who I was, and optimum foreteller of who I am yet to be. I cursed the world, screamed at God, drank a bit, and cried a lot. Perhaps I have that backwards, my foggy memory serves me not. I sought wisdom from the scholars, a course of action from my docs. All answers were defeating, with no keys to open ALS’s many locks. In time there came acceptance, a softening of my view on life. Aware of my body’s death arc, but pledging no spiritual strife. Then with crystal clarity, I realized that unconditional surrender just wasn’t right. Vowing to savor the journey, not rue the destination, my journey became my fight. The confounding nature of the ailment is that its source is an evil mystery. Not a single warrior, but a cowardly band of causes daring to terrorize me. The trick is how to thwart an adversary chosen only for one man. Disarming a stealth combo of factors is a highly daunting plan. But “hope is the thing with feathers” a famous poet once said. So surround yourself in feathers, let them flourish and spread. Be not content to be the sole contributor to your feathery array. Adding hope, not pity, from others will yield a potent bouquet. Put the event behind you, choose carefully your ensuing path. Select healthy, productive ways to channel consuming wrath. Know your enemy, what may weaken or slow its progress. Time gained, and well spent, is a true measure of success. Every day that you rise, be prepared to do battle; attack, do not hide. For that may be your victory day, with new ammunition at your side. No matter the size, savor every moment, celebrate every circumstance. Believe with pure conviction that you always have a puncher’s chance.

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