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What Kept the Darkness at Bay After My Parkinson's Diagnosis

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” –Gandalf the Grey

With chronic illness, there are often many dark days. Days that seem bleak and without hope. Days when you can see no light. Many times during “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” movies (where the above quote is from), it seemed and felt this way. It looked like no matter how hard they fought, they would not succeed and darkness would envelop them.

In the week after receiving my diagnosis, it seemed as if darkness would overtake me. I had read the stories of so many who had fought this disease, I had looked at the statistics and effects of the disease, and I knew one day it would ultimately win. Add to that my unexpected ambulance ride four days after diagnosis for passing out, and darkness seemed poised to choke out what remaining light and hope I had.

That is when it started to happen. In the midst of my discouragement and arguing with God, I was thrown a lifeline. In the quote above, Gandalf says, “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love,” and this is exactly what happened.

As news spread, I began to receive messages. Short texts that simply said, “We love you. We are here for you. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you.” Nothing more elaborate than a few, small sentences of caring and support; a small act of kindness. One day, a friend showed up to my house with a Cherry Coke in hand and a listening ear, and that is what he did, simply listened. Another small act of kindness. Cards began to appear in my mailbox, with simple notes of love and encouragement. Again, a small act of love.

There was nothing super elaborate, nothing expensive done, and no huge expenditure of time. Just simple, small acts of love. There were emails, hospital visits, conversations, and so many little ways that others showed caring. In those small acts of kindness and love, the darkness surrounding me was held at bay.

Sometimes, when others are hurting or struggling, we feel that what we have to give is insignificant, that it is too small to matter. In reality, it is the small reminders of love that shed light into very dark days and give those struggling the courage to keep fighting. Never underestimate what you can do to help someone who is struggling. That small act of kindness may be the only thing holding the darkness at bay in their life, and you might just give them the courage and strength to fight on for another day.

Getty image by Grandfailure.