The only person I know and love who has always had a genuine love for life, who never just endured it, but rather always lived with the joy and abandon that seems to many a thing of fiction, was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that is slowly erasing who he was, replacing him with a man he was not ready to be. An old man in a younger man's body.
He spent some time in denial. Begrudging acceptance was followed by internalized anger and depression that surfaced as anxiety and insomnia.
A calm, accepting exterior is belied by irrational hope in miracle cures peddled by soulless quacks.
Interactions with others are explicitly avoided and when inevitable, are followed by the fretful query, "Did I look normal?"
Normal. Those brief moments of feeling like his old self.
Most often limited to nighttime when he sleeps.
All of this could be, and was, borne with stoicism.
What could not, however, was having him respond affirmatively to the doctor's question: "Do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead?"
Or, overhearing him say he hates himself, his life, as it is now and the cure-less future that awaits, where dreams are dead and you awaken to a nightmare. Every. Single. Day.
These glimpses of feelings he hides beneath a shell of strength and optimism (or is it just silence), opened a flood of tears that were neither cathartic nor soothing.
I suppose they were cleansing as they washed away the masks we wore to protect each other and ourselves from a reality we can't bear to face....
Except I think the masks are back in place.