Would You Rather…

It’s a game we sometimes play in the car when the natives get restless. The Boy who is 14 doesn’t often play games, but sometimes this is one he will tolerate. Bunny (12) and Monkey (8) like to play too. They have been raised on the easy ones, the ones with no consequences, no harsh realities on one side or the other. Their game consists of Would you rather have a pet unicorn or be a unicorn? Be bitten by a snake or a shark? The Husband doesn’t like this game so much. Is it too silly? I don’t know. I just know it keeps the kids occupied for a long period and sometimes starts conversations that we normally wouldn’t have.

But when you grow up, the world presents new questions that make it less like a game. A couple of weeks ago, we were watching Real Sports on HBO. I don’t know who is in charge of this show, but they do an excellent job. And I don’t really like sports all that much. Anyway… The story was about a former football player (Steve Gleason) battling ALS [link to the show preview].  It was riveting, chronicling his life before the disease, his life now and his future.  I couldn’t turn away. The horrifying tragedy of this disease is that it takes your body, slowly or quickly, and leaves only your mind intact.  It will kill you and you know it. You know every time your body betrays you, every time there is one less movement you can make on your own, every step backward. To the Huband and I, this presented a new and horrifying Question, one that as we age, our parents age, and our children are moving towards adulthood becomes a greater nightmare than any horror movie I have ever seen.

Would you rather lose the function of your body one muscle at a time and be fully aware or lose your mind slowly leaving a fully functioning body, as with Alzheimer’s? What if it is not you, but your parent, your partner, your child? If you had to wish one of these horrors on yourself or someone else, which would it be?  And what about the people left behind?  What scars does that leave?  What scars are you wishing on your loved ones in your choice of Would You Rather?

You don’t have to choose. No one does, thank goodness. But it certainly is enough to keep me awake at night. And enough to pray the little prayer that I say to ward off all evils I don’t feel I could face. Dear God, there, but for the grace of you, go I. It feels less like a prayer and more like a plea. Please, don’t ever let me face any of these options. This game of Would You Rather isn’t very fun.