This week’s Story is an achingly beautiful poem about what it feels like to live with chronic illness when you are young, single, childless, unable to finish a degree, barely able to eat enough to keep you alive, body wracked with pain and mind and soul buried beneath the ultimate question, “What am I worth?”
By Tessa Rice
My stomach is smooth, besides the loose skin refusing to leave. No sign of the map-like markings that tell a story of a child being born.
My flimsy body lays alone and empty on the couch, the space next to me reserved for the imaginary hero that doesn’t exist.
No wife. No mother. No matter.
Irrelevant stacks of papers and writings, books and ideas, clustered in disheveled piles of dreams lost.
Mirrors down, covered head, hidden in the darkest corner of an unlit room for one.
Haunted by visions and yearning of what I never was, what I became, what I am.
No career. No acceptance. No matter.
Twisting, pulling, panting, pleading, the clock reaches time of now. My Breath becomes labored as labor becomes wanting, as wanting becomes night. Endless.
Morning comes with the cruel roll of the dice, anointing me with sweat for remembrance of the dusk.
No health. No life. No matter.
My joy plucked and used away, for a Saturday, many years ago. A Thursday once was nice, but forgotten as disappearing moments once only drizzled away. Now a Broken dam. Flooded days. Memories lost. The shell of me imploding with fragility.
No happiness. No laughter. No Matter.
They look at me with a shade of pity, a touch of curiosity, and a wealth of resentment. Turning heads of society, justifiable only by practice.
Fighting, begging, scratching for the path that is mine. One that I know. One that I want.
Ripping blank pages from my unwritten story, my voice trembles as I speak
My hope. My fight. I matter.
About Tessa in her own words:
I was diagnosed last year with EDS type 3 after 12 years of declining health that led me to be unable to walk, and with a horrible movement disorder called dystonia. In the last year I have had two neurosurgeries, including brain decompression and spinal fusion, as well as a tethered cord operation, and have battled gastroparesis and MCAD relentlessly. Despite these things, I still love music, singing, nature, and the ocean, as I spent many years surfing. I love to write, specifically poetry, love science and psychology, and have a deep desire to help others and animals. My 13 year old pitbull named Stella is my best friend and has helped me through everything. I continue to fight and push through always with the memory of my mother in my heart, choosing to not give up in her honor.
You can connect with her on Facebook here. You can donate towards her two most recent neurosurgeries here.
If you are walking a Gauntlet or are close to someone who is and would like to contribute to our Thursday community please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you the instructions for submitting. Share with anyone you know who might like to join our Gauntlet Story Feast. (Please use the hash tag #GauntletStoryFeast when sharing so we can find and follow one another.) Our Hope remains.
Photography by Cindee Snider Re. Used with permission.