Life is a blessing essay

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Living with Lou Gehrig’s disease is about life, when you know there’s not much left. Dudley Clendinen, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, at his home in Baltimore last week. Internet Explorer 9 or earlier. Go to the home page to see the latest top stories. In this last year, one took me to Istanbul. One gave me a box of hand-crafted chocolates. Fifteen of them held two rousing, pre-posthumous wakes for me.

Two sent me a boxed set of all the Bach sacred cantatas. And one, from Texas, put a hand on my thinning shoulder, and appeared to study the ground where we were standing. He had flown in to see me. We need to go buy you a pistol, don’t we?

He meant to shoot myself with. I said, with a smile. I loved him for that. I am acutely lucky in my family and friends, and in my daughter, my work and my life.

But I have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A. Lou Gehrig’s disease, for the great Yankee hitter and first baseman who was told he had it in 1939, accepted the verdict with such famous grace, and died less than two years later. I sometimes call it Lou, in his honor, and because the familiar feels less threatening. But it is not a kind disease. The nerves and muscles pulse and twitch, and progressively, they die. From the outside, it looks like the ripple of piano keys in the muscles under my skin. From the inside, it feels like anxious butterflies, trying to get out.

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