Terrible news to report this morning, fellow Daggers. Our dear friend Mr. Smith (Michael Tracy Smith) died yesterday, a day before his 66th birthday.
As some of you may know, he suffered for many years with Spondylitis, a degenerative disease that fuses the spine. Through it all he kept his big heart and his delicious sense of humor. He was a master of the art of Haiku and made his amazing haikus a regular Friday feature here at Dagblog, a gift for which we probably didn't thank him enough.
This is a poem Michael wrote for other Spondy victims. He worked tirelessly with the Spondylitis Association of America and they're mourning him today, as well:
There is a moment, after they tell you,
That you have an incurable, chronic degenerative disease,
That you feel all alone,
That you ARE all alone,
That you are the only one that you know that has to deal with something so huge,
so formidable, so difficult, so challenging and utterly life-changing.
There is a moment, after they tell you, That everything will be okay,
That you feel they are lying, that your life is now definitely and completely over,
and that no-one understands or knows the full extent of what you have lost.
We do. We who have what you have. We who've lost what you've lost.
We who feel the pain that you feel. We who struggle with what you struggle with.
We're fighting to keep our lives from becoming less than what we dreamed they would be before all this. And we're scared that we are losing the fight.
We know. We know the fear of unknown disability and uncertain futures.
We know how what you thought you were is no longer how you are.
We know how hard life has become in more ways than anyone else can possibly know.
We know. We are a miracle in your life.
We are the vindication that you are not alone, that you are understood by someone.
We are your reassurance that despite it all, you can make it through the difficult times.
We are your mirror and your sounding board.
We are your miracle.
We are not alone, we are united in our understanding.
We are each other's insistence that we can carry on, that giving up is not an option.
We are each other's lesson that our lives still have worth and can continue on,
striving to learn and then reaching out to teach, in an unending cycle of giving and receiving.
When you sink into despair, and think the worst,
We know. We have too.
We know all the levels of Hell that there are to know.
Just as you know them.
We are your miracle.
We will steady you, so you don't fall, help you learn to cope and shed real tears for your pain,
which is the pain we, ourselves know all too well.
There is a moment, sometimes long after they tell you that you have an incurable, chronic degenerative disease, that you come to know that you are still you and that despite it all,
you are going to be all right.
We are each other's miracle.
Rest in peace, dear Michael. You will be missed.