Leaning over my bed in an eerily similar position I took while in labor, all I can do is shift the weight from, left foot to right foot. There was no sleep last night or rest the day before. But the day before seemed hopeful as I looked through doctoral programs admissions application on humanitarianism and international policy at Columbia.
It took my mind off it.
Today is much different. I caught myself looking at the rings on my finger, doing the pain dance. It’s a new pain. It comes from a place you only know if you have given labor….close to the coccyx bone. It’s hard to tell. I cannot sit and I cannot stand. There’s no relief except when it becomes overwhelming and I vomit. There’s no sleep.
Dante must have included this in his Inferno.
I could see the rings on my fingers through my tears. Yes, I cry. I’m hormonal and alive. I have a sweet little boy I had to ask to leave the room until “mama gets through this part” – the same little boy who asked as I lie with him the other night to never stop holding his hand, not even when he falls asleep, just in case he gets scared. I can feel his eyelashes unintentionally eskimo kiss my cheeks and he falls asleep holding my hand. He will not let go.
I think of his need and his sister and my gigantic love, and I have no idea if I will get through this part. Not even for them.
Even eating is awful. There is no escape from any of it.
I whisper to him that holding someone has a literal meaning, and a figurative meaning. Praying it soaks in as he sleeps and I whisper, I explain that I will hold his hand into eternity. I will never leave. I am always beside him, even when he cannot see me. Just like God is. His son and the Spirit. Believe.
He is young and asleep. He wants me to hold it in a literal way.
Today I wonder how much longer. This isn’t right. Something else is majorly wrong, or it’s progressed and it’s brewing,
I’m swimming in a size 2 J Crew dress. They have smaller cuts. It was tight a month ago. I’m vomiting and holding on, assuming that position that calmed me during labor. My hands. The hands he holds. I stare. What rings will I give Zoe and what will rings will I give him, for his love? God I pray he loves, they love. She is stronger. He is fragile. His heart like mine.
It splinters and crumbles at the slightest things. He loves so hard and is so gracious. He let’s me sing “Jesus Loves You…” as I play with his hair, helping him drift into sweet dreams. He is still part of that age where your dreams are sweet and can care less about tomorrow or some dirty past. He can sleep in. I find sleeping in to be torture. There’s too much pain there. It’s been written. You can’t unwrite the ugly things we have done. We can only try to do the next right thing.
I know this, I have made amends, and yet they catch up to me in dreams and take me down.
The rings. Who will I leave which? Both have great meaning. Neither are the extravagant princess -cut diamond ring with trillions on each side, set in platinum that their father proposed to me with by the Charles River after just five months of knowing each other. Marlo is the only one I have ever seen with the same ring. It made me happy to see it again.
I said mine was at home. I lied. I’m sorry. I didn’t admit that I had to pawn it for $2000 around four years ago. He paid $11,000. I was too sick. We had no help. I did it for my family. So he could keep the lights on. There was no choice and I didn’t feel bad. Women have done such more for their families, I didn’t see it as a sacrifice. But Tony. My poor husband. He almost threw up.
So these are replacements. Not costing anything close (also I am much more aware of blood diamonds these days), they represent what T and I truly cared about...our family at what I consider its best. Helping each other through this. I am proud to hand them down. They represent the fight we must go through for one another, not the day when people pretend I am a princess and make me look like a virgin in white while he is saving me. I am not a fan of such stories.
But this, I don’t know if this one anyone will come through WITH me. T can't walk with me through this one.
I keep talking with God. My plans yesterday were so different from the plans today. Doctoral applications and a decision the next half of my life will be spent on world peace, humanitarianism and not this inward fight. I don't only want to serve my disease. Not me; although I will always advocate for the sick. And I will see the publishing of the second book through.
One thing you should know, if you believe, the faith doesn’t go. I used to wonder if I’d curse God or get mad. I don’t. It doesn’t feel like that at all. I don’t feel mad. I am so grateful I walk this journey with Christ. With God. I am not alone. Everyday I wake to angels around me, routing for me, looking out for me. They are here. I must not let the pain feel louder than their spiritual touch. I shift and squeeze. The pain continues.
It’s like I can feel a presence. I’m being told what to do. My back is being rubbed by my faith, things I cannot see. I have a profound feeling, a knowing…not empirically based. Something I was born with. My parents, once disgruntled quasi-church people, now believers in their pain. I understand. My journey was solo until I found the Dominican Sisters and Shara.
I only took time from the nausea and pain to write this to others, so they may understand. When you are in pain, time works in the reverse way. It’s not your friend on a micro level. A single minute is many moons. Many moons, many years. You age quickly. You writhe and pace and collapse and cry and pray and cry and try to watch something, read something, text a friend (he will tell me I can do this), drink something, not throw up…shift your legs, shift positions, hide from the kids, pee, trip, hide the guilt I feel for holding him back and you are only at 29 seconds. Waxing and waning.
The only way time works for you when you are in pain is by knowing time on Earth is finite. Yes, you think “OK, this is finite”. Same exact words I told my student six days ago as she was trying to detox from heroin...again. I wish I could've controlled time for my little sister. A litter Emo girl, convinced she never fit in. God how beautiful she is. Hold on, this is finite were my words to her, but for me it is different. She can go on, graduate and be something great. For me I wonder, but how finite? Will this be the end of this crisis, or me? If this is only getting worse, I’m okay with either. I can’t believe I just admitted that out loud. My babies. How can I feel that? But no good will come from them watching me go through this. And God knows I am not graceful.
And then you pray that this weird time thing works for you in the end, that they carry you with them forever in ways we can't understand yet. For as long as they go, I come with. Will he feel my eyelashes the way I feel his? Taking that feeling with me may be hell though. I don’t know.
I don’t want to part with my loves and I worry for the little ones if I do. But I have always been honest. I have always tilted everything and pointed out the light. I let them see me pray and read my devotional, go to church, pray with people suffering. Never watch someone else work, always offer help. The universe doesn’t revolve around us, at any age (although literally, scientifically, it truly almost does. Look it up. It’s fascinating). We cannot respond to hate with hate, or violence with violence. We must embrace our authentic selves and serve peace and our brothers and sisters. That and put your shoes in the neat line in the dining room!
And they have been surrounded with some of the greatest minds the world has ever known. I’d like to believe they saw my heart, my justice, and my illness (they too will face adversity and I want them to face it, unabashedly and openly. There is no shame in adversity, not if we learn). I pray they remember what I look like, how I smelled. My eyes. I pray they FEEL me. I don't want holes.
So many things I do not know. I do know what 29 seconds feels like though, just not eternity.
I wonder which way it will go. Will I be achieving a new dream, new knowledge of serving the poor and impoverished, the oppressed, the have-nots, the “lepers” that Jesus held. Or if this is the time where I learn about eternity, and I pass on.
I wonder a lot of things. Shift legs and take my rings off. Maybe that’s a sign. It’s like, “Here, take my rings…hold my earrings…them are fighting words.”
Rings are off.
I am just not ready yet. I can handle 29 seconds a little longer.
PPS-If time is flying by for you, remember it is sign of how awesome you are doing. Be grateful. It is a sign of something blessed. If it is going by slow, remember how fricking strong you are, and how close God is to you. It’s all I can think of as I lean over the bed, dressed for nothing but this war against my body, shifting and dancing in pain. He’s with me. Always. And I am grateful, just not ready.