“Lizzy, I’m not ready to give up our dream.”
It was two weeks after my ALS diagnosis. We were watching the news, the reassuring tones of Peter Mansbridge rumbling through the day’s events just as they always had, life going on even as ours seemed in freefall. I muted Peter and looked at Mike.
“I’m not ready to give up our bucket list”, he said, choking back tears. “I think we should get an RV. I don’t care if it’s only one year or two years or whatever we have, we should do it.”
Our dreams, the ones we thought would die with me. Our dream to buy a motorhome, and tour the continent upon his retirement. We’d very nearly bought that motorhome the weekend before I got the news and quickly shelved the very idea; I likely wouldn’t be around and he didn’t seem too keen on doing it by himself.
We told ourselves we probably would’ve hated it anyway. We’re not much into camping, and we’d
viewed the whole idea of an RV (or MoHo, as I hear on this coast so often) as something that could take us to our next destination, more so than setting up house next to a lake and fishing or some such outdoorsy thing. That future, full of possibility, that excitement of exploring together, had now become too painful to think about.
We’d buried the idea so quickly in a week that when he said it, I was shocked. And then I bawled, big wracking sobs that were at once sorrowful and yet, somehow..somehow…joyful? Was that right? Could that be a twinge of happiness? For the first time since hearing the news, I felt alive. Alive. I wasn’t going to die today. Or tomorrow. Or even in a few months. And for the first time, I believed-we both believed-that we did have some future. Not the one we imagined, for as long as we’d liked, but a future nonetheless, and one in which we might learn to be happy.
And so we adjusted the plan. It would be a smaller RV, for shorter trips. It would be something I could get in and out of with a few modifications, one that could have more changes as necessary. I read inspirational stories of PALS who RV’d with their breathing apparatus, with their feeding tubes, with their motorized chairs, even with their Personal Care Workers in tow. If they could do it, then I, needing only a cane yet, certainly could.
“I’m not ready to give up our dream”, he’d said. But what I heard was “Here, Lizzy, here is hope. Here is faith in our future. Here is belief that we have some living to do. Here is something for us both to hold onto. We’re not done yet.”
And so today, on my birthday, we got it. Our altered, adapted dream, but our dream nonetheless. I can’t wait to go, and see, and do, and share it all. Unless of course we find out we’re meant to be hotel folk after all.
A few friends have asked if we’re going to name the RV. I said I didn’t think so, we didn’t usually name vehicles. But I think we’ll make an exception. I’m thinking “MoHope”.