When the world was busy falling apart, it seemed like mine was like… “hey, cue the music” and the floor started to crumble from beneath me. Poetic I suppose, poetry is the only thing that ever came easy.
Pain I’ve come to learn is quite powerful, and chronic pain, well that can wear you, etch you in places you haven’t even known before.
My mid morning escape-perhaps meditative, spiritual, maybe it’s even transcending. I climb into my bed, broken, my handful of morning pills do little to sew me back together. In these darkest moments, illness takes over every piece of me.
I lie there in my dark silent bedroom, with the rest of the world moving along outside my walls. I imagine a missed morning commute, a frosty car window, hot coffee, and the way sunlight bounced off the downtown St. Paul skyline. The faces of my co-workers, missed morning meetings, office gossip, and laughter with patients. That’s what it seemed I was missing the most, impromptu laughter.
Pain settled deep into each and every joint, while ceaseless nerve pain traveled from my shoulders to my elbows and from my hips to my knees. Creating a highway of seemingly senseless, painful destruction. Lupus you are cruel, uninvited, and unforgiving.
I forced my defiant body to become heavier and heavier, pushing myself into the depths of my bed, pushing myself further from this illness. Further and further from both the destructive pain, but also from the loss of impromptu laughter and morning skylines.
Seeking solace, perhaps I have brought myself to this transcending place, or maybe I’ve been led here. It feels like the latter, too rich in immeasurable love for happenstance. I am immensely grateful all the same.
She is tall and slender and her embrace is soft. She wears fake pearls, full lipstick, and smells of perfume, and Budweiser. Her apartment is there for me too, and I am small, probably seven years old.
Nine or maybe ten city blocks separate her Grand Avenue apartment and my Downtown St Paul office, where if all was well, I would be in laughter and vocation. Decades separate us too, more than three since her passing, but time and death must be inconsequential, as must the separation of this world and our next. Somehow all of these degrees of detachment have blurred, and her presence is real all the same.
She leaves this place for me, and I have learned to bring myself back. I return to her when my body defies me.
Another day, sunlight beyond my walls…
After opening my bedroom door and crawling back into my unmade bed, this world moving along without me. I deliver my broken body, pushing it deep through the core of my bed. It seems the heavier my pain, the easier it is to fade away and find my way to her, my grandmother.
I make myself small. I climb each rich mahogany stair that leads up to her third floor apartment. My mary janes proudly announce my arrival, echoing in the vastness of the grand staircase. I wear a white ruffled shirt and corduroy pants. My mousy blonde hair is pushed back into sweet barrettes. The pain melts away when I am small.
Once I reach the third floor landing, her apartment is on the left. It has an ornate 1920’s door knob. I reach for it and enter. All of her things are just as they always were. She offers me her warm embrace but says nothing. Her eyes are soft and knowing. Sometimes I hear sounds of the city through her open bedroom window, pleasant and hushed. Childhood memories play briefly in pastels in the corners of her living room, and then they fade away. I curl up on the tightly woven plum colored carpet. I’ve come here to rest. I have no pain, I have no worry. I drift away, in both of our worlds I suspect.
I’ve found refuge.
I can’t begin to understand the mysteries of this world or the next… I do know that when I seek solace, He has carved a place for me, and she is there, in pearls, full of love.
Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with His Feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.