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“On the Front Lines of Multiple Sclerosis,” by Rosa Maria Silva
Translated by Katharine F. Baker

(True story based on personal knowledge, for the National Day for people with multiple sclerosis, December 4)

     Multiple sclerosis was the disease that took my mother to the point of no reaction. Everything was falling asleep for thirty-nine years... I understood what she said: “It’s a tingling, an anthill that takes over my whole body.” She was dependent on another (her youngest daughter) for basic and essential care. She had lost almost all her senses, including vision. Palpation would produce only the usual format. She would cradle her morning mug of coffee with milk, the spoon would go askew en route to her mouth, chewing or swallowing a necessary sacrifice, a poor procession of her hand to her leg with no force to rest her foot on the wheelchair. In her final years (her sixties), the chair was almost always replaced by her bed. The bed was the site of all actions of the human body, a “dead” weight among tears and prayers repeated mentally with the images of saints made ornament of the room’s furniture. She was a devout believer in prayer and in visiting Serreta’s Patron Mother the second week of September, no matter what. Her priority was to hear and see the festa mass with the Holy Mother on her platform, seated very close to Her. Her smile shone during that hour. The perfume of the ornamental flowers of the season inside the church made her face young and happy. I admired that scene and retired my silence. When would the time come no longer to see that scenario of instant happiness? During Serreta’s festa in September 2003 it was not even possible to think about taking her to the best representation of the mothers of the universe. The next month, on the 28th, she lost all movement. She had only closed lips with a probe for the machine-adapted meal, eyes closed to the ephemeral world, total pallor, a “sleep” that was hard to watch, and our prayer that God would receive it and grant her the peace she deserved.

     Since then I’ve never liked hearing that expression “having multiple sclerosis” – it’s like remembering my sister, the best caregiver my mother could have had, in the sense that she had become accustomed to that scourge. How many, many times had the ambulance not been the surest and fastest way to take her patient (and mine) to the old Angra do Heroísmo hospital? How many, many times had the physical therapist helped her and taught her the best way to withstand falling in her movements? How many, many times had I wept inwardly for dealing however I could, because another grander treatment was not considered appropriate because she was too sensitive to pain, wounds, and the sapping of the parts of a body that had given birth to me (us).

     Even today I think that it was she, my mother Matilde Correia, the sufferer inspiring my creativity in writing when I never had any before (I was a student not by choice, but out of obligation). After her death I became a lover of words to the point of being an avid improviser. I leave proof in a book I have edited for future memory about the Patroness, our village and my sick mother, who always had an unshakable faith. That faith did not heal her, but it elevated her and healed me.


Comment from a reader I know who asked me not to identify him:

     “Your mother’s life was for several years truly that of an authentic martyr, always watered with faith, that invisible force, which certainly helped her bear her tremendous cross. Your sister, too, didn’t have an easy task and that, in order to deal with this type of illness, requires a total availability, and you, who were more on the periphery, were suffering in your silence. After her death, I believe that her spirit, in peace, was decisive in your intellectual transformation. Probably what you did from there was something she in life had always wanted to do, but could not, due to two limitations: literary knowledge, and illness.

Comment from a communications professional I know who asked me not to identify her:

     “A deep, moving text that mirrors the suffering of someone who has had the joy of being enveloped by love to the end.

In her form, Rosa’s writing is visual and intense, where the almost imperceptible recourse to metaphors makes us witness to the episode and carries us to the reality of the emotions.

For me, the distribution of these texts go beyond the literary aspect.

Your mother’s life experience of being a bearer of ‘multiple sclerosis’ must be discussed, because it is in sharing situations like this that concern for the problem is spread.

P.S.  Chryz Chrystello (Jornalista, tradutor) - Blogue de notícias alternativas in

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