when there’s nothing: Jesus, mercy, thank you.
I keep thinking, this has to get better.
Something has got to give, mountains need to crumble, pain needs to cease. It’s time.
And then, nothing.
Worse, the mountain grows, looms like a devil.
Florence had her casts taken off the other day, and instead of relief, we’ve been faced with her pain. Normally Florence doesn’t experience pain with her condition. But the casts have caused tightening in her knees and ankles and throughout her legs. Apparently her bones have healed, but I see no real improvement.
I can hardly swallow the lump in my throat, but I do and pretend it doesn’t scrape me raw as it goes down. The week is ending soon, and it’s piling like manure. It’s piling hot and heavy in my home, and I’m crumpled on the carpet with groanings too deep to be uttered. My mascara runs down my face like I’ve broken a pipe, an unceasing downpour. I know it will stop soon, but I don’t try to hold it in.
Now is the time to cry.
For the pain, the flinching, the lip quivering, the wet tiny tears that I kiss off her face.
Now is the time to cry. For her inability to wrap her arms around me, for the helplessness she feels when I gently, gently manipulate her tight muscles. I wish she could kick me away and scream and thrash about on the living room floor.
Instead I do it for her, though my strength is waning as the months turn to years. Thrashing has turned into a slow sink to the knees, and sometimes it feels really good to stay here.
This afternoon, I picked up her foot and she yelped in discomfort. My hands trembled as I carefully massaged her pudgy foot, and ever so slightly stretched her foot. I stared at the yellow wall, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The froth and spit came spilling out of her open mouth, her nostrils flared and she let her eyes go wild with fear. I pick her up to comfort her and she cries harder. Every movement seems to inflict pain or anticipation of pain. Shhh, it’s okay, it’s okay, I repeat again and again. Shhh, mama is here, all done, all done. I hold her close, and rock her back and forth, singing along to the worship music that’s playing loudly in order to distract her. I shut my eyes hard, and sing. I rock her. I hold her. And she calms. I take her foot in my hand again, watch her flinch, and keep on singing. She lets me stretch her for a few seconds. I stop before she can start crying again.
She will be in pain for a few weeks, they told us, you can give her Advil.
But they don’t really know.
Can you tell me I’m a good mother, when I make my child cry and moan because it’s “good” for her?
Can you tell me I will have to pick myself up off the floor and nurse my swollen heart until the throb of this particular brand of motherhood subsides?
Can you tell me to be strong enough so I can mumble a prayer that means something, to push play and let songs of worship fill my home until my heart unclenches and the veil lifts?
Can you tell me that I will have to declare through a smile, through laundry piles, through Facebook photos of healthy babies and family getaways, that I am not an orphan, God has not left me alone, God has not abandoned us?
No, you won’t tell me these things. I’ll discover them on my own.
And day by day, I’ll grow in strength. Month after month, I will put fear to bed before I move on with my day.
Bad weeks will turn into bad days, and bad days will be squelched into a few hours. Eventually I will learn to wash my face in cold water and whisper, “Jesus. Mercy. Thank you.”