I have always known that my friend Cyndi is one in a million. Today I found out that she's also 1 of 5 in 100,000 worldwide.
Cyndi has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Aclerosis, or ALS, which is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is terminal and there is no cure.
As is her norm, Cyndi is handling her diagnosis with the strength and wisdom that I've seen her use time and time again during the course of her life. She's counting her blessings, telling me what a wonderful life she's had, and making a list of who she's going to haunt once she shuffles off of this mortal coil. And while she still has a voice to do so she's taking the time to tell me that she loves me and how much our friendship has meant to her over the years.
Right now there's no telling how long Cyndi has, according to her doctor death often occurs within 2-7 years of diagnosis and there's a good chance she's had the illness for close to two years - which would explain the problems that she developed with falling over a year ago. That said, it's going to be a period of time during which her body starts to shut down on her while her mind stays unaffected. She's already started to lose her voice and is using a walker to get around though it appears that a wheelchair is very imminent.
Personally I feel like someone has knocked my legs out from under me and I'm not quite sure how to wrap my head around this one yet. After I hung up from our phone conversation that started out with "I'm dying" I had myself a good cry, cursed the many miles that are between us, and decided that a trip out to California is going to have to be a priority - soon.
I don't know how, I don't know when, but I do know it needs to be while I can still wheel my best friend into our favorite Mexican restaurant and order a #13 Combinación and reminisce over both good times and bad and so that I can tell her in person what our friend Sergeant Timmy White, who died in the line of duty at Stockton PD, always told us, "It just ain't right" and that she has always been the best friend a person could ask for - always.