My Turn: Silver Linings

By Rhonda Shaver

Mitch and Rhonda Shaver

On January 30, 2018 my husband Mitch heard three letters that would determine his future…ALS. As an individual hears these letters and places them with a diagnosis many thoughts and emotions can swell up inside. On this particular day, I sat in the room and watched my husband process those 3 letters as if it was another day and now a new path in the road. Not a path that would define him from a diagnosis, but a pathway that, “It is what it is.” Since that day, I have watched the man I love tackle many new challenges but doing all of them with strength, dignity and self-preservation. He has never asked the question, “Why me?”, felt sorry for himself, or questioned the path that he has been given. Watching him embrace those three letters, ALS, has helped us see life with a different lining of appreciation. We have always been a positive and grateful family but we now truly see the “Silver Linings” in many aspects of life.

Our “Silver Linings” include many aspects. Our first lining is being able to have time together, plan and make as many memories as we can. These are simple pleasures and moments shared that have had the most impact. Some people are not as fortunate and don’t have the opportunity or time to make memories. We have also had friends and family share how they have done soul searching for life priorities in their own lives. A friend of mine quit smoking because she is able to control her destiny for now and someone with ALS does not have that ability. For her, she is taking control of her health because Mitch inspired her. Early on, a friend gifted us plots and they were located in the same cemetery as Mitch’s dad. True angels among us! The gift was received with great sentiment, which also correlates with another silver lining. Mitch has always been very loving and affectionate but now shows the excessive laughter at simple pleasures and a wide range of emotions. Others are able to enjoy the sentimental guy I have always known and loved.

On a different silver lining, Mitch was awarded social security supplement to help support our family financially since he is no longer able to work. With this, he is able to receive Medicare and a supplemental plan which has helped our monthly budget. We feel blessed to have it as an option. I know Mitch would rather be working but, on the silver lining side, he is less stressed and more relaxed.

Among the most precious silver lining is something that has always been right by our side. Our family and friends have always been close, but one thing has been for certain, we never understood the deep nature and the love and support is unconditional. From family and friends, we see weekly to ones we have not seen in 15 years. It is amazing to hear and see the impact one individual can have. Stories have been shared with Mitch on how he has impacted others, to inspire, help, support, listen, mentored, encourage, educate, develop and many more. He said he never fathomed the depth of how others have related to him. His humble and confident nature would never allow him to think he did anything to require accolades. And this continues through his journey with ALS. The other day, Mitch expressed to me, he has received more support than he feels he deserves. It weighs heavy on his heart and his biggest worry is he won’t be able to do the same for others as they have done for him. Little does he understand that each day he smiles we know we are the ones who have been blessed with this great man in our lives! Our silver lining does not take for granted each day and allows us to live with appreciation through a happy heart and a warm smile.

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