I’m finally home from conference and it was a wonderful time. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had the experience of fighting something like HPS and feeling so isolated what it’s like to spend several days with so many people who “get you.”
I’m posting about this first, however, because I want to share it. Still, conference was such an uplifting and happy event; I don’t want my grief to tarnish it. If I post this first, it will be followed by so much uplifting news, I hope the effect will be as desired. Grin!
As wonderful as conference was this year, I was more aware than ever of the HPS’ers that are no longer with us.
I think back to my first HPS conference in 2003 and all the people I met that weekend. At the time most were as healthy (or not healthy depending on how you look at it) as I am, yet so many of them are no longer here. I can’t help but be a bit shaken by the difference a few years can make.
Conference isn’t the same without Carmen M. She lived for conference. I say this affectionately when I say Carmen was LOUD. You always knew she was around because she was so lively and full of life. She truly relished being among her HPS brothers and sisters. Every time I watch the documentary and see her in the front row yelling and cheering us all on to smile for the camera, I miss her.
I also couldn’t stop thinking about Elsie all weekend. I got teary a few times and had to quickly find a way to hide it. Conference is uplifting. We go out of our way to make it a celebration, not a downer. I didn’t want to impact that by crying too much openly. Still, every time there was a new piece of news, I kept thinking “I have to call Elsie and tell her” – and then I’d remember that she’s not here anymore.
Karen was able to visit Elsie’s husband and kids in Florida. She brought me back a purse that was Elsie’s. I’ll probably never use it. One of the handles is coming loose and I’d be afraid to put too much in it. Even so, that’s not the real reason. It’s the only thing I have of Elsie’s. I took it from Karen at conference and quickly put it in my suitcase without looking at it.
But when I got home and was starting to unpack Thursday, I found it wrapped up in a blue plastic bag. I carefully unwrapped it and looked it over and hugged it. I cried for a good 45 minutes.
Every year we have a Sunday morning service at conference. It’s a way for those of us grieving our HPS friends to come together and grieve together. When you live so far apart from one another, and you lose someone close, it can be so lonely. You don’t get to do the normal things people get to do when they experience a loss. I know this might sound crazy, but it was good to cry with other people who knew Elsie in person.