Thursday, September 10, 2009

Carnival of MS Bloggers #44

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A special story shared today by Judy who blogs at Peace Be With You.

Hope got up that morning and breathed in the sunshine air. That’s what she called it—sunshine air, that quality of air which shines brightly and thrills with promise, of shadows remaining distant, of strength staying resolute. So she breathed in the sunshine air and thought, Oh, my, this is the day that the Lord has made. Let me rejoice.

She was heading to the kitchen to prepare her morning toast when she tripped over a—what did she trip over? She looked down, but the tile floor was as smooth as ever, no stray objects around her that she could see. Must have been daydreaming already, she thought. I’d better get my act together so I can go out and enjoy this sunshine air.

The first thing she did when she walked into her blue-and-white kitchen—hey, weren’t those hand-painted, blue willow plates on the walls just great?—was to pull open the French doors to the patio. She stood at the threshold, her hands propped high above her on either side of the door jamb, and breathed in deeply. Jasmine, even a hint of morning dew, filled her lungs. Promise, that’s what this day reminds me of, she thought. Of how a day is always the beginning of the rest of your life.

She walked back into her kitchen, pulled out two slices of oatmeal bran bread and the jar of mango preserves bought the day before at Morning Glory Farms. After putting the bread in the toaster, she turned the lid of the jar to open it. Except it wouldn’t open.

“Drats. I should have bought that jar opener I saw at the store yesterday.”

It had seemed like such an unnecessary thing to do at the time. $13.99 might not seem like a lot to others, but she had decided to save every penny she could toward a vacation hiking up the Costa Rican mountains with other members of the Audubon Society, and $13.99 was 1,399 pennies.

She tried again to open the jar. The lid wouldn’t move. Her hand kept giving out at the wrist, as if it lacked strength. Hearing the sound of rustling leaves coming through the patio door, she remembered—this is a day of sunshine air. Then she reached into her pantry for the strawberry jam she usually used except on days like today when promise seemed especially worth celebrating.

That’s okay, she thought. Strawberry jam is good enough to celebrate sunshine air. Anyway, it also came from Morning Glory Farms, and everything they produced was a miracle.

She went to place the jar on the counter, but missed the edge. The jar dropped to the floor, red jam spilling onto her white tile and splattering her cabinet doors, shards of glass everywhere. After gazing at the broken jar on the floor for long moments, she leaned over to pick it up, but lost her balance and landed on her hip on the hard floor. In the stunned moment after landing, she thought, what just happened? Then she quickly examined her arms and legs for cuts. Somehow, miraculously, she had fallen where there was no glass. Only a bit of jam stuck to the hem of her short, frilly nightgown.

“See, I told you,” she said, using her elbow to get off the ground. “This is a day of promise.”

After wiping clean the mess on the floor and cabinet doors, she picked up the edge of her nightgown, and rinsed the jam off. Her toaster had long since rung to tell her the toast was ready so she threw out the hardened slices, dropped two more in, and went looking for something to spread on her toast.

Butter, isn’t that what most people put on toast? But did she even have butter? She never used ordinary butter, not even for cooking. One thing she had always been proud of was how she ate right, exercised, and kept a good attitude.

She opened the refrigerator door.

No butter.

The toaster rang.

She gazed at the toaster, heard the leaves rustling behind her, and sighed. Then she squared her shoulders and reached for her toast. She slid the slices onto a plate and strode to her outdoor patio table. There she sat, breathing in the sunshine air and smiling before she bit into her dry toast. That’s when she noticed the pamphlet on the adjoining chair. She thought she had thrown it out the night before, but apparently not.

The designer who laid out the pamphlet’s artwork must have been a cheerful sort—or not knowledgeable or smug or superior or something—because he chose uplifting colors. Hope stared at the pamphlet until she remembered her toast was now growing cold. She bit into the dry toast. The crisp edges seemed to scrape across the delicate upper skin of her mouth. Her skin in general seemed awfully sensitive these days, and she reflected on how skin was supposedly the largest organ of the body, which meant she was just one big sensitive organ.

She lay the toast back on her plate. I probably should use paper plates from now on, she thought. Less risk if I drop them. From the patio, she scanned the blue-willow plates she herself had hung in her kitchen. It didn’t seem likely she could add another, not just because of the money but because she’d better donate her ladder to someone who could actually climb it.

She picked up the pamphlet from the adjoining chair, gazed at its aqua and apricot tones and thought, the designer should have made sure the pamphlet’s contents were equally uplifting. Or were the pastel tones intended to take the edge off the life sentence contained within? Is that what Hope had to do now—paint her life in pastels?

She had always hated pastels. It was the primary color spectrum of a tropical jungle or the honesty of Delft blue china she always preferred. She laid the pamphlet down and picked up her toast.

Stay with the program, Hope. Stay with the program. Remember, this is a day of promise.

A ray of light filtered through the Japanese maple usually shading her patio. It lit up Hope’s face and she lifted it to let the sunshine warm her. A breeze picked up the pamphlet in pastel colors, and it fell to the flagstone terrace.

Alerted by the sound, Hope watched as the pages fluttered. Then the pamphlet closed on itself. Living with MS, the teal-colored title said.

Saving 1399 pennies was not going to make a hiking vacation in the Costa Rican mountains possible, was it?

Hope swept up her plate, most of the toast still uneaten, and headed for the kitchen door. There, head bowed, she stopped momentarily before turning to look at the patio again. The sun is still strong, she thought as she lifted her face to warm it. The plate in her hand dropped to the flagstone and shattered.

This concludes the 44th edition of the Carnival.

The next Carnival of MS Bloggers will be hosted here on September 24, 2009. Please remember to submit a post (via email) from your blog of which you are particularly proud, or which you simply want to share, by noon on Tuesday, September 22, 2009.

Thank you.
Comments for this post.


  1. Very nice. Sometimes hope is all we have and all we need.

  2. Thanks, Lisa, for honoring this story. I still believe in hope.


  3. Thanks, Diane, for appreciating what is at the heart of this story.

  4. Judy,

    Here is a comment which a friend left on the post which uploaded to Facebook:

    "Beautiful. Sad. True. I can identify with every sentence."

    Thank you for sharing this story with us.

  5. Thanks, Lisa, for sharing that with me. Judy

  6. Significa de mi nombre es Esperanza en Espanol. In English it means "Hope."

  7. I, too, can identify with the story. Being positive is what gets me through every day.

  8. Hi!

    Congratulations! Your readers have submitted and voted for your blog at The Daily Reviewer. We compiled an exclusive list of the Top 100 multiple sclerosis Blogs, and we are glad to let you know that your blog was included! You can see it at

    You can claim your Top 100 Blogs Award here

    P.S. This is a one-time notice to let you know your blog was included in one of our Top 100 Blog categories. You might get notices if you are listed in two or more categories.

    P.P.S. If for some reason you want your blog removed from our list, just send an email to with the subject line "REMOVE" and the link to your blog in the body of the message.


    Angelina Mizaki
    Selection Committee President
    The Daily Reviewer

  9. Congratulations, Lisa, on your selection.

    Denver Refashionista/Esperanza, Hope is a beautiful name.

    Dawn, I don't always remember, but when I do, hope can carry me through a lot.

  10. beautiful, eloquent, this story perfectly captures that awareness that hits us all with a diagnosis of is different now...but hope does not need to be discarded...dreams can be refined and re-defined as we change and grow with our shifting abilities. Each day is a new beginning, despite and because of what we are forced to leave behind.
    gentle steps,