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A Summer Story: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

I used to think people who were superstitious either believed in the supernatural or were a bit nutty.

Despite Stevie Wonder’s words, “When you believe in things that you don’t understand then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way,” I’ve become superstitious about summer because of the repeated (unwelcome) circumstances thrown my way.

I grew up loving summer

Living in the Northeastern United States, I grew up loving summer, longing for the end of cold, harsh winters, when we could put our coats, boots, and gloves away.

Summer is a time of rest and renewal when as kids we’d chase lightning bugs and swim in the town pool until dinnertime. My happy summer memories are cemented in my soul, and I’ve tried to provide that same Utopian spirit for my husband and son.

But life obviously has other ideas for me. Unfortunately, the months from  May to August have been anything but magic for quite some time.

Summer became associated with loss and health issues

Within two years, I lost my beloved father, father-in-law and our incredible ginger cat, Max, all in the summer. A few years prior to that I suffered the simultaneous agony of kidney stones and gallstones, yes, in the summer. There were multiple doctor visits, surgeries, testing, and hospitalizations. I fell into a deep depression when my hormones plummeted, culminating in a full-blown MS flare.

Invasive tests and anxiety

The last few years, I’ve lived with horrific belly pain and bowel dysfunction. Doctors couldn’t find the cause. I bounced from doctor to doctor until a special test and a second colonoscopy revealed a diagnosis –  SIBO – or small intestinal bowel overgrowth (a medical condition when an unusually large population of bacteria lies in a person’s small intestine.) My summers were awash in the most harrowing appointments, invasive tests, and anxiety.

This summer, I hesitated to say out loud that I prayed for a happy summer. I said it anyway. I should have thought twice. Or three or four times.

Now, I’m that nutty woman who’s completely superstitious. Why?

Summer began with devastating news

Summer began by learning that our adorable, sweet and gentle eight-year-old Russian Blue kitty, Smokey,  has incurable cancer. She’s so little, with such beautiful feminine features and a completely ladylike manner.

We are heartbroken. If you’re an animal lover, you know pets are our family. They provide unconditional love and affection. They steal our hearts.

Another kidney stone

Moving on, my urologist told me in July I have another growing kidney stone. This one is number 7. I’ve done all I can to avoid another stone. I take medication to prevent them (11 pills a day), drink 64 ounces of water with lemon, and carefully watch my diet. I must be a stone breeder. Remembering the pain that was worse than childbirth, I am not a happy camper about what the future may hold.

I also don’t want another full-blown MS exacerbation

So, our summer plans are on hold. August is here and the days of summer are slipping away. We are doing the best we can to take care of Smokey, and I upped my water consumption to help the stone pass.

Multiple Sclerosis taught me a lot about being prepared for life’s many tests:

  • Stand tall in the face of fear.
  • Self-advocate by using my voice for better medical care.
  • Ask for help if anxiety, depression, or symptoms of illness are too much to bear.
  • Be gentle on myself by knowing it’s okay to have bad days. Crying days. Sick days. ME days.
  • Be sad about sad events. Own that. Work through those feelings and don’t try going around them.
  • Remember that life isn’t always fair. Bad things do happen to good people.

And it’s okay to write a sad post once in a while without feeling guilty about it. I am as human as the next person and, quite simply, life happens to everyone. I am being my authentic self.

Realities beyond our control

What I learned by living with MS is helpful, but in the end, life can present us with harsh realities that are beyond our control. Like Smokey’s incurable cancer and repeated kidney stones that (for me) are mostly genetic.

And the unpredictable disease I’ve lived with for three decades. MS.

I wish there were cures for everything so I (and millions of sufferers worldwide) could return to whatever normal may be. I miss the magical feeling of summer.  Until then, I’ll remain superstitious, and hope that someday I’ll have one summer that’s drama-free.

I can dream, can’t I?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • chong61
    6 months ago

    Yes you can dream, I do everyday and that lets me at least feel like I am relevant.

    I feel so sorry for your loss of your loved ones. I lost my husband of 58 years. He will be gone 4 years this Thanksgiving. I also lost my beautiful little Pomeranian to cancer. I live alone with my newest Pomeranian who is my protector, companion and he lets me talk all day without telling me I talk too much.

    I have reached the level that if anyone says “but you look so good,” it makes me happy. It lets me know I am not the old hag with MS, so I will keep trying to hear those words again. They truly make me happy.


  • KarenLoftus
    6 months ago

    Ah, Cathy, I’m so sorry for your losses and continuing trials. I’ll pray for you, your family and beloved Smokey =^~.~^=.

    I agree about certain times, seasons, months, etc. being just bad for some people.

    Sometimes I feel my MS is a magnifying glass for losses and challenges in my life.

  • poppydarling
    6 months ago

    Cathy, my heart goes out to you! I developed gallstones and had unexpected surgery last year and I know exactly what you mean about additional medical stress on top of MS! Plus sickness or aging in our furry friends, which is the ultimate stressor for me. I’m glad you wrote this post– sending you my warmest wishes that you get your ideal summer one year very soon.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thank you and some very warm wishes for continued health, joy and lots of love. I appreciate you reaching out here.

    I hope all our adversites present silver linings that will guide us to better days.


  • Turnippatti
    6 months ago

    I very much enjoyed reading your article. I can also relate. I have had three surgeries since August till April on my colonoscopy. Found a mass and removed a growth stage high 3 .And two eye surgeries . Since last oct. I was diagnosed with MS almost 4 yrs ago at 58. Been in a wheelchair since them. You just have to keep going no matter how much pain your suffering. All my friends at my age are out doing things enjoyable I couldn’t even fly home last year to the uk for my mums funeral. They said it was to long a flight and stressful. It’s been 7 yrs since I last saw my mum. Have a lovely day.

  • KarenLoftus
    6 months ago

    I’m so, so, sorry, love, you didn’t get home for your Mum’s funeral. MS is a nasty bit and so unpredictable – my motto these days is I’m reliable at being unreliable.

    I pray your other health issues are resolved and your MS stays stable.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    6 months ago

    I am so sorry for all you’ve endured.

    My sincerest condolences on the passing of your beloved mother. That is so difficult and I feel badly you hadn’t seen her in so long. My deepest sympathies. The loss of a parent is heartbreaking.

    I hope you will enjoy a time when little by little life presents you with positive things that will give you joy. Even small things. We have to learn to focus on them, as they come. Grab hold! And place them in your heart.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am glad you are here with us on this site.

    Best to you~

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