Since the 1980s, I've had a crush on Bruce Willis. And every Christmas, my kids and I have watched the Die Hard movies (Yes, that's a Christmas movie!) But now, he has aphasia. I am so sad for him and his family.
What is Aphasia? A simple Google search tells us: "Aphasia is an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions. The major causes are stroke and head trauma. Aphasia can also be the result of brain tumors, brain infections, or neurodegenerative diseases, but the latter are far less prevalent" (Google).
So what is that like, having aphasia?
When I was 20, my grandmother, Jeanne, had a stroke that left her with Aphasia. I remember her trying so hard to communicate after her stroke. She'd need tissues, but she'd only be able to say, "The Curly Ques! The Curly Ques!" Her eyes would tear up as she tried to tell us what she thought, what she needed, or how she felt.
It took some time to figure out her new language and she was beyond frustrated. She would have cursed if she could have. Before the stroke, my grandmother, a typical New Yorker, spent her days drinking red wine (the big gallon jars of Carlo Rossi Sweet Redblend), chain smoking her menthol cigarettes, cooking the family meals, reading Danielle Steele romance novels, and mostly, talking on the phone to all of her friends. Now, she could do NONE of those things.
But she still laughed. My grandmother, my namesake, taught me to always laugh. And so we did. She put on her lipstick and did her best to smile. I am so grateful to my grandmother for teaching me how to laugh when things are tough. She had named her house "Care-a-ways" because that was her attitude toward life.
And while she tried her best to accept her new condition, it was clear that her frustration and sadness contributed to her deteriorating health. For the last year of her life, she could not fully communicate. When I last saw her, resting in her bed the day before she passed, she urgently tried telling me something that I could not understand. All I could do was tell her it was okay and hold her hand. That still haunts me today.
And now, Bruce Willis has aphasia. I pray for his family. I am so sad to hear this news.
This too reminds me that we need to take charge of our lives TODAY! We cannot let our struggles control our minds or our hearts. We might be struggling to pay rent or medical bills or other important things, but honestly, those things are just not worth getting upset over in the greater scheme of things--it will get paid, or it won't. But we only have the one life, and we MUST embrace each day, find the good, manage the bad, and shoot for the stars.
I've recently written a new song, "Shoot for the Stars," with a fun flirty tone (toward Elon Musk!), but the truth is, the song is really about pushing forward, never quitting, always trying to do our best, and as much as possible, celebrating who we are while we ''shoot for the stars'. It reminds me of another favorite quote:
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Norman Vincent Peale, American author famous for his book, The Power of Positive Thinking.
Please do that for yourself!
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