Every now and then I hear about another person who has died in the fight against lupus. Sometimes, it's someone I've come to know through my online networks, sometimes it's a name and a face that sparks a vague recollection, sometimes it's someone I don't think I've encountered at all.
While I only really grieve over those I've had some interaction with, reading about a lupie's death always pulls me up short, and leaves me in shock for a few hours.
Today, as news was shared and reshared about another death, someone gave words to that shock I always feel. She posted: "That could have been me."
"Lupus" means "wolf", the disease got its name from rashes that looked, to someone anyway, like wolf bites.
This wolf is no tame little lap dog. No-one gets to control it. It's a creature of pure malevolent evil. It stalks us constantly. If it's not actively attacking us, it's planning the next attack.
We fight back with drugs with trying to keep to a basically healthy lifestyle, by trying to avoid things we know are triggers.
But the wolf is unpredictable, and we never know where the next attack is coming from. As hard as we fight, it's determined to fight harder.
So when one of us falls, we all pause for a bit, and recognise, that could have been us. And we look around at family, friends, things we want to achieve, all the reasons we have to live, and we determine to fight even harder.
Then we complete the thought: "That could have been me, but today it wasn't. I'm still in the fight, and I'm going to give it everything I've got, because I plan to win."