Care Partner Corner

Christmas and MSA

By Tom Tait

Is this the last Christmas?

How do you get through Christmas with your loved one who was just diagnosed with possible MSA. The question always on your mind is, “Will this be the last one?” That question will come and go along the MSA journey during many events. I understand it is normal, and I don’t let it overwhelm my thoughts.

MSA changes our lives forever, our days, our holidays, and our time together. It has taught me to look at all life events as very special. With a strong, loving family, it’s “show time” to show them how strong you are, show them your best smile, and let them know that you got this!

2014 Christmas: We celebrated like we always did, my wife decorated the house, and I put up the lights and trees right after Thanksgiving. She shopped and wrapped gifts. All is well at the Tait house! Santa comes into our home to visit on Christmas Eve, and we all enjoy it. All our kids and grandkids visit on Christmas day, and Liz serves a great dinner. All things considered, it’s Christmas as usual.

2015 Christmas: Pretty much the same as the first; however, Liz tires quickly and tries her best to stay awake. She cannot stand up as long as before, so we make the best of it. I take over some of the Christmas decorations, and she lets me know where they go and how she wants all the ornaments and figurines. The kids stop by and help with the decorations and setting up the trees, one in the sunroom and one in the living room. I shop and help with cooking Christmas dinner. All our kids and grandkids visit on Christmas day, and we have dinner. It’s different, but we approached MSA as a team, so we both got this! Is this the last one?

2016 Christmas: Liz is starting to slow down and is wheelchair-bound. The hospital bed is set up in the living room. During this time, the children stop by and help with the decorations while I shop, wrap the gifts, and make all meals. On Christmas, all our children and grandchildren come for dinner. We enjoy every moment as this could be the last one.

2017 Christmas: Liz is bedridden, and Hospice has entered our world this past year. The children help with decorations and celebrate, as we will not let MSA take our Christmas joy away. We know it’s different this year as we all eat in the living room while Liz lays in bed. Is this the last one? Yes….

2018 Christmas: We celebrated without Liz this time, as she passed away five days before Christmas on December 20th. We all knew that she would want us to celebrate Christmas, so we had Christmas dinner, opened gifts, and missed her dearly.

Christmas Without You
How very much you’re missed
I think you somehow know.
For I feel you beside me
No matter where I go.

To be reminded of you
I don’t have to go that far,
For every night I see your face
In every shining star.

As every moment passes by
Now that Christmas time is here,
I’ll be thinking of the joy we shared
At this special time of year.
.. Author Unknown

Our MSA journeys are different; we live on and celebrate life, acknowledging the lesson from MSA to make every day and all events special. No regrets…

Wishing you serenity,