Disease Can Ravage Your Body, But It Can't Destroy Your Soul

I noticed her this week in Boston — an old friend. Older now and a little more fragile.

Walking with not one, but two canes.

Tired. She looked very tired.

We exchanged pleasantries. Talked about our kids.

All seemed like they were growing and doing well — the kind of stuff you like to hear kids do.

But not all was well.

Her husband had just left her.

"Can't really blame him," she told me.

"Look at me. Would you want to hang around with this?"

"This" was a woman riddled amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease — a neurological nightmare that eventually kills all who get it.

She's got it and she's still desperately popping up in cities where she knows big biotechnology companies gather to find a cure for it.

"I'm a convention crasher," she tells me. "You never know."

I marvel at how this woman in such obvious pain can manage to smile and joke. Over the years, that part of her has never deteriorated, even though her body has, and now so too her marriage.

Yet there's not a hint of bitterness.

She tells me she's looking forward to a summer she'll see her grandchildren and some more conventions at which she'll see — maybe, maybe — her miracle.

She asks how I'm doing. I could have complained, as I usually do, about a late flight, a driver who got lost, a journey that went way too long. The annoying frustrations of every day life that sometimes I take for granted.

But clearly this remarkable woman does not.

For once, I shut up and she, just smiles.

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