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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 13 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 13
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-03-04 08:21:55
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13. MS and other not-so-serious things

It was pure coincidence that until a few months ago I knew very little about MS. I just knew that it was leading to some kind of paralysis and it was pretty painful until a friend called me late one evening from Greece with tears and in a near hysteric condition. She had just found out that her twenty-two year-old son was suffering from MS and it was escalating pretty fast. That evening I just listened to her; I suppose she just needed somebody to talk and it didn’t matter if this somebody was a few thousands of kilometres away but that same evening I spent some hours searching and checking.

The Internet is a great tool when it comes to information but it can really scare the shit out of you. There is just so much information and all the sides of the story with so many details that sometimes you just don’t want to know. So three hours later I was so overwhelmed I had to turn everything off before I started crying thinking that this was the destiny of a twenty-two year-old boy! I don’t know why, but when something like that happens to somebody so young it just sounds so tragic, not that it is any better when it comes to a woman in her late-forties.

Leena was not pretending to be the brave one and I think the worst part was the loneliness she was feeling, somehow it was like listening to my story. She had a real career and she was really happy, had been independent in too many ways including a good salary and how from one day to another she lost just everything. I think what made it worst was that she was full of regrets. “I had a relationship before all that came out, not a steady one, I wanted to become director fast…” she didn’t really need to say anything more, I knew exactly what she was going to say, I had been there. It was like I could hear the words and the funny thing is that I had been the one to tell them, “It's going to be hard but we have one another and that’s the main thing, please think about it and tell me. I cannot press you or anything and I know how difficult it is…” and the next morning from lovers making dreams for the future we became just friends; it took less than twenty-four hours for this demotion.

At least in my case it was much easier, it just hurt my ego and anyway I was not ready for any kind of commitment that moment and I said it somehow just because I had to say it, circumstances forced me to say something like that - Leena’s case was totally different. Obviously she loved him. Perhaps it was the age as well, when it happened to me, I was in my early-forties so I was feeling strong and ready for new adventures, different but definitely new. Leena had to deal with the whole thing just a few years ago, perhaps feeling already old to deal with that and I could just see that she was feeling suddenly thrown on the side of the street fighting just to go to the other side.

In cases like that I don’t know what to say, I’m too empathic! I could feel her side and that made me wonder how I would have reacted if I was in her place. “Do you think a man will ever look at me again? Do you think I will ever fall in love or I will ever make love again?” and I really wanted to say yes, yes, yes but nothing came out. I didn’t believe it myself. Not the best companion I suppose for this case and I have to admit that even now I have no idea if she can do all these things, I know my optimistic side says yes but then again a look at her face it was enough. I suppose she had given up this part and the only thing that mattered for her now was survival. She was living only for today and trying to make the best of it under the circumstances.

“Hey, how’s our new neighbour? Have you spoken with her at all?” I tried to change the subject because even the coffee had gone cold and somehow bitter. “She a very nice girl. And yes she talks too much!” she added with a small chuckle. But when something like that comes from a Finn it really makes you wonder. From the very beginning when I came to this country as a tourist and nothing more the first thing I learned was that Finns don’t talk much; they really appreciate the sound of silence and they have many myths and anecdotes about that. According to many this has to do with life in the forest and the most popular joke goes like that, one day two Finns go to a pub, they order two beers and sit down drinking. After a while one of them asks, ‘fancy another pint?’ and the other one looking angry answers, ‘Did we come here to drink or talk?’

So when a Finn says that somebody talks too much you just don’t know what they mean exactly and remember that Finns have very little body language and not at all small talk. I just have too many stories with my small talk adventures when I first came in this country but this is for another time. Leena was very quiet now, I suppose she felt that she had said everything and now she was expecting my reaction, amazing what a love story that turned bad can do to the psychic of a person. “Well, at least it is not snowing today…” I said and we both cracked up into hysterical laughter! This woman definitely has my twisted sense of humour.

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