What Can I Bring to Your Fire?
This blog post was originally published on August 18th, 2013. Friday was Janet’s birthday. I can barely remember what the landscape of my life looked like before knowing and being known by her. I celebrate her every day.
I have seen them in cities, and in my own neighborhood,
nor could I touch them with the magic that they crave
to be unbroken. Then, I myself, lonely,
said hello to good fortune. Someone
came along and lingered and little by little
became everything that makes the difference.
Oh, I wish such good luck
to everyone. How beautiful it is to be unbroken. –Mary Oliver
It’s a quiet morning here because Dan has taken the girls to church. I woke up locked in my room. My neck doesn’t move at first when my eyes open. I remember I had surgery, and I need to heal today. This is what Sunday looks like for me. Healing is my one job. I call out to have Dan bring me coffee. Normally I would go out to my nest chair and drink it while everyone else comes to life around me. Twix will crawl into my lap for snuggles and then Danica takes a turn. Today I can’t seem to move. I call Dan again to please come and get out certain pills for me to take that may raise my cortisol level, help with pain and also loosen up my poor neck. He seems annoyed. He doesn’t ask me how I slept, although I ask him, and he doesn’t ask me if I need something to eat or nibble on before I swallow six super strong pills on an empty stomach. It doesn’t even cross his mind. I don’t ask. Since I’ve been home it is much like other surgeries. I am put into my room with the door shut. I think my family looks at it as doing me a favor. The kids jiggle the bed which hurts my neck. They are loud and silly. Mostly because of the pain and meds too much input sets me off. Still, I have missed them incredibly and being alone hurts in the worst way. As they all leave for church the attitude is negative. I asked Delaney to read me Psalm 37 out loud. It’s one of my favorites. All I can feel is this rope of bad energy tightening around me. The house is a mess. As soon as they leave I cry for ten minutes straight. You know the kind of sobbing where you are just gross snot pillow soaked blotchy face and chest heaving crying? I am given a week in Maryland and that is it. I have to be better. Tomorrow Dan will go to work. I will be here alone with my girls. Delaney starts school Tuesday. Wednesday Danica has kindergarten preview and Thursday they will both be back full time. In between here I am supposed to just be mom. I’m supposed to lift up this neck and do all the things people say are stupid and careless to do following this surgery but there is no one else to do them. I am not supposed to move my neck in flexion or extension for a month. In other words, hold very still. Aside from the surgery where I went away to heal at the lake house this is how it has been. My family can barely scrape together enough time off and energy to do the mom is in the hospital thing. When my ride dropped me off yesterday my dad was waiting with his keys to leave. I asked him to please wait until Dan got home. I haven’t heard from my mom at all. I just can’t be alone yet. Dan does not function without me. He is angry at this situation. I get this. It’s maddening. But I wonder if anyone is thinking about what it must feel like to be in this body and mind and soul. Do you know what incredible shame I feel to be causing all this over and over again? He cannot come and sit with me and talk to me about how I am feeling. Even in the hospital he sat there the entire day after my surgery saying nothing. I felt so insanely alone and guilty and wanting to just let him off the hook for all of this. I always want to say to him, “You can run. It’s okay. I would totally understand.” This surgery is huge. It’s a big deal. For me, even more than the physical, it’s a mental and spiritual choice I made to try to be better. I did this only four weeks after a major abdominal and pelvic surgery. I made this choice because my husband has been given an opportunity to perhaps take on a larger role at work, my girls start school this week and last year I was completely bedridden when school began with another surgery and then another and it hurt Danica’s adjustment greatly, and my mom is completely unavailable in every way this time of year. Her family is the 600+ students entering those doors Tuesday and my dad is preparing to go to China and India for a month and good grief, how much longer can things keep being about me?
Why after all these years of blogging am I saying these things now?
Because something changed me.
Ninety nine out of one hundred of you may feel like this comes across as ungrateful, but if you know me you understand my spirit is only full to overflowing for every ounce of love and support from every corner of the universe, especially the sacrifices my parents have made. Still, what was given to me this time was something I have needed since I was a child. There has been a deep longing for a mother to care for me. Someone to just focus on me and build relationship. I have needed it so badly it is actually part of my sickness. I know this.
There she was.
A woman I didn’t know personally until two weeks ago made this crazy offer. I didn’t really even think she was serious at first. She offered to come after my surgery and get me since Dan needed so desperately to work. Everyone who heard of this felt it was very strange. She bravely drove with her own physical limitations from Ohio to Maryland. She fed me. She took me on a hilarious trip around the beltway for prescriptions. She rubbed my neck and shoulders. I don’t think anyone had offered to touch me like that in months. Did you know you need human touch to be okay? I have been like an orphan tied to a crib. Failure to thrive. I need to be touched. She listened to me. I listened to her. Her daughter is sick with the same conditions I have. I think perhaps the windows into one another’s roles in all this was one of the greatest gifts. We talked for hours and hours and only scratched the surface of what our souls could share. I would fall asleep mid sentence and then wake and begin where we left off. She would quietly slip off as if knowing I needed space and then appear just when I was needing her. Gift. Gift. Gift. When everything else falls away WE are gift.
Before Danica’s major surgery in Cincinnati I wrote this post with a link to a song by Christa Wells that is truly my life song. I am amazed when one of the “thousand things” shows up. Christa’s new CD “Feed Your Soul” was released on Tuesday, the day after my surgery. I downloaded all the songs first thing that morning, and they played over and over in my alone time in the hospital. The song Come Close Now describes what Janet did for me.
God, every single step of this arduous journey You have given me Dayenu. It would have been enough. This present of knowing and being known makes me healed in places I thought would be broken until heaven. Even in my sadness today I understand I can only meet people where they are in their own journey. All the rest You will care for perfectly as I burn. Thank you for giving me someone to walk into my fire and just feel the heat of all this without shrinking back.
Do you know someone who is sitting in the burn today? Go close. Sing. Hold them. Be there in the fire. It will make all the difference.