By Stacey Philpot
Have you ever fallen victim to a robbery? Perhaps while you were slumbering, one foot thrust outside of the covers and one resting peacefully within oblivious to the deafening sounds of your partner’s ear piercing snores, someone approached. A masked man shattered glass and your sense of safety all in one fell swoop. They ransacked your home in search of all that was precious and prized. They gathered up your goods, the possessions you’d worked long and hard for and before you knew it, all was lost. You’d been robbed.
When you awoke, you hated the thief whose face you hadn’t seen with a passion you hadn’t known was possible. Why had they chosen to steal from you? Was there something about you that made you seem like a more appealing target than your neighbors? If so, how could you remove this target from your back? Would the thieves come for more? Was anything in your possession safe?
There is a thief that is always seeking to pillage amongst all that is good in my life. Its name is sickness. It comes to steal my presence from happy occasions and all of the goodness, joy and strength, stamina and endurance, and adventure in my life. It comes to rob me of special memories and occasions. It tip-toes into the room and strips me of all things precious any time it catches me distracted. This thief of chronic illness loves to pull the rug out from underneath me. Let down my guard for just a moment-forget a medication, get lost in a moment of joy, stay up too late, push too far, enjoy life too much, turn my head for just a moment and there the masked thief will be. This thief has robbed me day after day for years and still, it catches me off guard.
Sometimes I awake and I hate the thief with a the kind of passion I didn’t even know was possible. Why did the thief choose to steal from me? When will it come for more next?
Is my anniversary approaching? Is my husband’s birthday on the horizon? Is the Christmas countdown in full swing? The rare disease crook will have me in its sights, ready to pounce, to steal these days from me.
Some say their illness isn’t a battle they fight. Their illnesses must be kinder than mine, perhaps gone to prison and now reformed. Mine must be fought. My body must be equipped with all the weapons in my arsenal, in order to win each battle. My illnesses and I battle over large things and small things. Illness fights for new territory and my body fights to be present on special days, even if just for a few precious moments at a time.
My body fights the invaders off it tells them they can have no more– no more space, no more time, no more relationships. It tells the thief it can steal no more.
Perhaps, your home is equipped with an alarm system, cameras, or even a sign in the yard reading, “protected by ADT”- mine is.
Likewise, my body has its own arsenal against the thief. Medications and support systems, doctors, treatments, laughter, donor antibodies, joy in the face of pain, gratitude- these are the tools are use to protect myself against the thief.
Perhaps, like me you have a thief. Day after day, he comes to rob you of this life you’re aching to live, these dreams you’re chasing, these loves your heart is bursting to birth. Like me, you pull out your badge of determination and you tell the thief, “Get out! You can’t have today. Today is mine to live, to cherish, to drink in with all its fullness.” You get in the thief’s face and you spit. Or maybe that’s just me. Because I don’t like thieves. And I decided long ago, disease couldn’t have my life. We see you, chronic illness. We’re calling you out. You picked the wrong house today, punk. We’re holding up our “protected by ADT signs.” We’re using all the weapons in our arsenal and we’re choosing to live this life we’ve been given anyway.
And just to spite you, the more you try to take from us, the more we’ll give away to others. Because we don’t like thieves.
Stacey is an author, goofball and avid reader. You can find her blog at chronicallywhole.com where she endeavors to encourage other warriors like herself along in their journey of battling for health and discovering wholeness. She is mom to Hayden and Avery, stepmom to Julie and wife to Ryan (a smarty pants who works at NASA and logs their whole life on spreadsheets and pie charts, true story!) She has a strange affinity for eating whole meals in bed (don’t tell anyone) and is convinced smelling old books will make her smarter.