|Title||Life is Beautiful Enjoy the Ride A Poet s Guide to Chronic Illness|
|Publisher||First Edition Design Pub.|
|Category||Body, Mind & Spirit|
|Language||English, Spanish, and French|
At the young age of 23 Mitch Koppel received a devastating diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Twenty years of extreme health challenges inspired him to express his journey through poetry. These poems immediately went viral with friends and family to the extent that they urged him to create a book about the story and the poetry it inspired. I don't wish MS on my worst enemy; even if I had a worst enemy. Actually, over our 20-year relationship, my worst enemy has been myself all along and I'm not about to give MS to myself one more time. In truth, as counter-intuitive as this may sound, it was recently refreshing to hear that my MS has sort of reached its end game. I heard this in the hospital no less. I won't get any worse because I'm 1% of the folks that have reached a sort of illness finality. I wasn't upset to hear this. I was actually thrilled because never again will I lose sleep over what the disease had in store next; will my limp get worse, will I one day need a walker or, God forbid, a wheelchair? It's all here now; a path of physical and oft times' mental destruction. I have a white flag, but it's never been raised. You see, I'm not defined by MS. I'm not defined by what's next. I'm not defined by its progress. I'm defined, or would like to be defined by breaking down barriers and setting an example for friends and family alike; especially for my boys. I used to agonize, summarize and theorize that I wasn't worthy. Other dads coached sports. I sat aside. Other dads played catch. I sat aside. Other dads would twirl their children in their arms, suspend them in the air and run around in the yard. I sat and stared. Then it hit me: my boys often call without a reason to tell me they love me. Griffin likes to lie on the couch and play a game he made up called, "Five Kisses." It used to be called "Three Kisses", but he wanted more. Instead of self-pity, I try as best I can to live with self-worth. It has had a domino effect on my soul. As the last tile lands forward, the words on it read, "Not today, MS. Not today." Blame games were a symptom of the past. Spirituality has played a major role in turning grief into accepting I have everything else left to live for, smiles to share and love to let grow; this was and is my new awakening. Like many ill or infirmed, the seasons change but hearts and minds may be frozen. In my heart. In my soul. In dark evenings of emptiness inside sunny days where I closed the blinds, the miracle of spirituality found, the quiet of my soul and memories of what I hope to never endure again. Ultimately, like rivers and streams, all things run into one and passes through illness from times long since passed. Each room, every bed and endless ticking of the room's clock began from the basement of time. A fly on the wall could tell countless stories of pain and suffering, of waiting and wondering, of tears and sorrow. Of a belief of a better tomorrow. Those before me leave fingerprints revealing it was their time and place. Some of those fingerprints come to life under every room's bright hospital lights. Beneath the lights are the echoes of their words. I am haunted by hospitals.