ALS: A Love Story, by Jay Smith

This is my ALS: A Love Story. It’s about my wife, Missy.

Missy and I first met in 10th grade Advanced English class. I emphasized advanced because there was obviously a mistake in putting me there. I was not a particularly good student, school was a bore and I mostly enjoyed making people laugh and getting in trouble. She was quiet and beautiful, I was loud and obnoxious. Let’s just say for her it wasn’t love at first sight and it took a few years for me to wear her down with my brash wit. We became good friends towards the end of our Senior year. I knew right away I was going to marry her one day. We started dating our first year in college and have been by each other’s side since.

We dated for eight years and got married in 2003. We moved out of the city, had two beautiful girls and life was perfect. In 2010 we uprooted our life in New Jersey to live a slower, more simple life in Austin, Texas. Those first three years were what dreams are made of. We had the perfect little tribe. The four of us did everything together. Exploring our new city, camping, boating together every weekend, and making new friends. It really couldn’t have gotten any better, well except if my bald spot started miraculously filling in with thick Fabio-like hair.

In the fall of 2013 I started having trouble with my words. I thought it was stress, Missy thought I was drinking at the office too much (drinking beer at work is kind of a thing in Austin), and the kids thought daddy was just tired. While I was probably all of those things, it wasn’t the reason for my declining speech. I had ALS.

The years since have not been easy. Missy has pretty much learned how to be a nurse, single mom, and operate on very little sleep, all while working full time to support the family and my growing needs. This is no small feat. The kids have had to get used to Dad talking through a computer and not being able to do things that other dads do. Through it all we’ve been able to create somewhat of an ordinary life through an extraordinary situation. I’m not sure love is the cure, but the unwavering love from my three Valentines is certainly the reason I’m able to live a remarkable existence, despite my physical limitations.