Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fragile Yet Tough as Nails

There is something about being ushered into a cubicle and the curtains drawn and the woman setting out the vials, the alcohol preps and asking me to spell my name and confirm my birth date. How much more intimate can you get? I open my shirt and hand over my central line with the stitches still showing under the see through patch and the impression of the line that threads through my juggler running into my neck. She draws my bood, getting what she needs to fill the clinic order. It is Saturday morning and there is no hustle nor bustle to distract the process. I start to cry. Glad the tears are coming because they have been stopped up for a while. The chapel is locked in the Saturday building. I ask the guard to open it. Then I ask for a box of tissues. The guard delivers. "I'm o.k. Not a danger to myself nor others, I just need to release." "I understand," she says. Good. She has a wad of keys and pager but no gun. Glad she didn't lock me in when she left. I sit in the quiet with the irredescient blue tiles set from floor to ceiling against the focal wall. A crystal bowl of smooth colored rocks sits near the prayer book on the gathering table. Dimmed lights - the safe place to let down. No one else can hear so I give sound and salty liquid to emotional exhaustion.

I am the utter poverty of God. I am God's emptiness, littleness, nothingness, lostness. When this is understood, my life in God's freedom, the self-emptying of God in me, is the fullness of grace. -- Thomas Merton

When the tears quit, I walk slowly and take the elevator to the sixth floor to raid the nourishment refrigerator in the clinic. Grape juice, cheese stick and crackers. While I am walking down the hall of the clinic, I think about my dad, died March 31, 2009. For the first time, I am grateful. Dad would never have wanted to see me this way. It would have hurt him so bad. And, my mother's journey with Alzheimer's. In ways, she is insulated from the hurts of her children. I find a seat for me and my snacks without worrying about where I have to go or what I have to do knowing that I have no other choice right now than to sit down and replenish before I'm able to take one more step. I watch the view on Lake Union until my body gains the strength to rise. Buy a newspaper and call a cab to return to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance House. Returning to life. Legs wobbling but without need of cane. I'm moving slow but I'm moving.

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