From Chapter 8, “Get Up! Don’t Be Afraid.”

Hollie’s Search for “Normalcy” and Worth

“How are you feeling, love? You seem well enough.”

“I feel great. In some ways I wish I’d never gone for that scan and those tests.”

“No, you needed to; it’s very important that you found out.”

“It’s scary, babe. Just the name – polycystic kidney disease – I never dreamed. We simply have no idea what it will do in time.”

“Well, for now they’re saying it’s only a couple of small cysts. The main guy, Dr. Steiner – he said a lot of people lead very normal lives.”

“It’s not normal, though, Win. Don’t try to make it sound as if it is. I loathe that. I’m not normal, which means we’re not normal. The idea of having a romping family, growing and giving, nurturing and watching our kids have kids – that may not be, not at all. That’s normal. Not us. Not now.

“I’m abnormal, not normal. My abnormality now extends to you. This disease is robbing you, not just me, which makes me feel even worse. Do you get it? The symptoms are already showing – a crack here, another there. We can’t decide this or that because we wonder, we wait, and all the while we change.

“That’s another reason I hate these stupid hiking shoes. They speak of vitality, normality, all gleam and glow, while inside I know I’m curiously ill. If I had an ax I’d just chop them up right now. I should take your pocketknife and slit ’em, cut holes in the soles so I can’t wear them. I’m never wearing them again.”

“You’re wearing them back, aren’t you?”

“You’re not hearing me. I don’t think you get how I feel inside. Disease is such a stupid word. What does it mean, a lack of ease? Who talks about being well as a state of ease? ‘Oh, you look so ease today!’ What I have is not just a lack of ease; I have a life challenge, a conditional difference, and an abnormality that makes me view life differently. It’s not the ‘dis’ of ‘ease.’ Knowing what I know changes who I am, and that is not a lack of ease.”

“Hold on a minute, Lee, will you? You’re adorable, that’s what you are. If you’re abnormal, then I never want normal. This thing is a part of you; it is here, but you, Hollie the person, the one I love, will always transcend it. It will not transcend you. You’re not a sickness. You’re not a disease.

“You’re Hollie Lee Macbreeze, and we have a lot of living to do. Let’s never let our aspirations die. There’s no telling what will spring to life from your canvas, your floating strokes. And not just that – you have a way of touching people, you really do. You’re a gift.”

“It’s just that this thing, it’s never off my mind. I’m so glad we came up here today, Win. I want to come back…”