I believe that we are all doing the best we can each and every moment – and that every single day is a gift. These beliefs can sound trite, I know — they did to me… Until I learned the depth and truth of a life lived by these philosophies from my husband, Chad Blooming, as he was living with ALS. In July of 2004, after being married just two years, Chad was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS. Lou Gehrig’s disease. I didn’t know then that ALS is considered an “orphan disease”– because of the paucity of funding available for research for its cure. I didn’t know that there is no large, vocal group of victims who speak out about this disease because ALS often robs its victims of their voice, and ultimately takes their lives too quickly for them to form a large group of activists. ALS destroys ones ability to move, speak, eat and ultimately to breathe — all the while leaving the mind clear and painfully aware of the deteriorating body.
Yet Chad never complained about his illness. He never complained about the journey from a fiercely independent biker, hockey player, social worker, to a man totally dependent on others and machines for every bodily function. Instead he inspired everyone he came in contact with. His ready smile. His laugh. His jokes. And later, when speaking was too difficult, his thumb’s up. He always showed us that he truly believed what he always said: Each day is a gift.
A friend told me after Chad’s funeral mass: “I’ve never seen so many grown men cry.” Chad, at age 52, had remained close with friends from grade school, high school and college. He had more close friends than anyone I have ever known. Everyone who spoke at the celebratory luncheon in his memory echoed the same themes: Chad liked everyone. He was that rare commodity that we might call: a good person. Someone who was blessed with an ability to find the best in every person and situation.
Along with many of Chad’s friends and family – – I’m finding in his absence that though I miss him beyond imagining – I don’t feel an emptiness. Instead I am filled with his light and laughter and goodness.
Chad had a delightful sense of humor – and requested that we celebrate his life. No one wore black – and he asked that we sing one song: “Take me out to the ball game.” None of us will ever experience a 7th inning stretch the same way again.
Chad believed in the goodness of life. He was delighted with every dawn. The meaning when uttered by his faltering voice was unmistakable: Each day truly is a gift. And each day with Chad was an amazing gift.
In his honor, in his memory – the best we can all do is to recognize and use the gift of each new day, and to simply and purely be nice to each other. Always.
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