“You’re probably the closest thing I’ve ever had to a girlfriend,” David told Nicole last week in an email.
“I know I’ll never have a chance with you, but is it okay if I email you more frequently? I want to have someone to share my feelings with.”
It was a brutally honest and self-aware email. Funny too. At one point, David apologized for being afflicted with what he called NADE – Non-Alcoholic Drunk Emailing disorder. David’s always had a good sense of humor.
That wry wit is just one of the things that Nicole appreciates about David. He’s also polite, and looks for the best in people. But, as is the case with most girls he has known, Nicole’s attraction ends there.
You see, David has muscular dystrophy.
It started to manifest around age five. One birthday he was running around wreaking havoc, messing up his room, playing with kids his age in the yard. By the next birthday, his body had started to change. Dystrophy causes a degenerative weakening of the muscles, and soon he couldn’t bear his own weight.
Now, at age 30, David has the body of a 12 year-old. He’s in a wheelchair.
Nicole isn’t a bad person. She is kind and selfless, and could never be accused of being shallow. But David’s situation reveals a cold reality, one of which he is fully aware. My friend Douglass, himself dependent on crutches because of dystrophy, put it this way: “No girl grows up dreaming of the day she will wake up next to a cripple.”
David knows all this, but he’s still in love with her. And Nicole knows she can never love him back, and that hurts her heart. Nobody wins. Life stacked the deck against him; love was never in the cards.
“What am I supposed to say to him?” Nicole asks me through her tears. I don’t have the answer. Love is a strong medicine, but it isn’t the kind of medicine that can make David stand up and walk again. So when Nicole asks me that question, I don’t know what to do.
What would you do?
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