My sister, Maura has a theory. She shared it with me recently and
it makes sense. She believes in a force she calls ‘The Spoiler'. Destroyer of
Good. Bringer of misery and decay. Not
Death, which comes in the Natural Order of Things, but the epitome of Evil,
which seeks out the very Best in order to despoil. Some know the Spoiler as the
Devil. I don’t believe in the Devil, but I agree with my sister and I, too believe
that there is a force for Evil in the world. Let’s call it The Spoiler.
I recently returned from Dublin, where I attended the
funeral of an old and dear friend. He and Roch had been good friends since
student days. I asked myself as others did who knew both Fachtna and Roch – why
them? Why both of them? But from there another question is raised for me – why were they both afflicted with terminal
diseases which eerily targeted strong personality traits, particular to each? One
might say defining characteristics.
Take our friend, Fachtna. Fachtna, of the ‘fierce
intellect’. A gentle man with a towering intelligence. A man who could happily
relax reading a book on quantum physics. So what does the Spoiler do? It attacks
his brain. Fachtna died of a brain tumour, which slowly consumed and destroyed
him. Is there some twisted ironic sense of humour at work here? Destroyer of Good.
I view the Monkey as an Agent of the Spoiler. Anyone who
knew Roch before his illness will remember that restless energy, the way he
could not keep still for one minute. Always on the move, spontaneous and
energised. Even at rest, a finger tapped on the table, a foot jigged up and
down. He was always the one to jump up and go out – to the gym, to the shops,
to meet friends. So what does the Spoiler do? It attacks Roch’s neurons, slowly
stripping him of his physical strength and capabilities. Bringer of Misery and
And yet, although we cannot cheat Death, we may vanquish The
Spoiler and his agents. His ultimate goal is to crush our spirit, to demean and
de-humanise. Maura and I believe that the antidote is Love, the power of which the Spoiler will never
understand. And so it was for Fachtna, surrounded throughout his
illness by the love and courage of his wife Joyce and their three children.
Roch, too has foiled the Spoiler and his agent. He says “If
anyone had told me, six years ago, that I would someday be content to sit still
all day, I would never have believed them.”He has adjusted to each cruel loss. Confined to his
wheelchair he says the world is at his fingertips; I-Phone, I-Pad, Fire Tablet.
One foot still moves, a sign of a restless energy contained. The Monkey will
take away the power in his hands and fingers and the next level of technology
will be reached. I know he will master it with his customary determination and
humour (there may be some swearing along the way). The Monkey has not
conquered his spirit.
A team of professionals stand at the ready to assist. But
perhaps more importantly, he is surrounded by the love of his family and
friends, all determined to soften each blow as it falls, to stand with him in
defiance of The Spoiler.
No, none of us can cheat Death, but like Joyce and Fachtna,
we can create something beautiful from the twisted cruelty that would see the
Bright and Beautiful brought low and have us watch in helpless despair. We can surround
the afflicted with the protection of love and friendship, shielding them from
the humiliations and indignities their illnesses visit upon them, learning
ourselves from their fortitude.With courage and love we too can vanquish the Spoiler.