Friday, June 4, 2010

Life In The Flesh

Kathy LeClair came by this morning with a clean pair of my jeans and shirt. She arrived to accompany me to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance clinic appointments. Dear One. We held hands. I leaned on her. We rode the shuttle together. First stop was blood draw from my central line on the first floor at the clinic.
I sat waiting, leafing through a colorful Oprah Magazine with a feature headline about reducing clutter. The cover photo was Oprah caressing an arm load of shoes sitting in what looked like a closet filled to the brim with clothes and more shoes.
My name was called. I wanted to put the magazine in my bag and read more later but realized my initial response was just one more indication that I was re-entering life. I didn't need to steal a magazine to catch up and fill into the mainstream.
The woman who called my name greeted me when I wobbled past the counter and stood in front of her. "Would you like to be in isolation," she asked. "No, I'm wearing a mask for protection because I'm 29 days post transplant and don't have an immune system." "Would you like me to wear one?" she asked. "No, you are o.k.," I said. Kara is blond with her hair pulled up and pinned at the back of her head. She has a pierced eye brow, pierced nose and ears. There is a colorful tattoo on the back of her neck. She welcomed me into the blood draw bay and pulled the curtains for my privacy. I unbuttoned my blouse to reveal the central line. As she worked, scrubbing with alcohol prep, flushing each lumen with saline, and drawing for labs, I noticed the tattoo on her left wrist. She has two little infant feet with ten toes (like the shape of little feet that are inked and impressed on record upon birth) penned into her skin above scrolls. I saw the word Jeremiah. Well, that is pretty neat, I thought. I had heard of guys who get the names of girls friends or wives tattooed on a body and then break up or get a divorce. A mom tattooing a child on the body would never need be reversible.
She is so gentle with me. She took her time, cleaned the line from chest entry to draw point. She followed every procedure that I've become so familiar with.
"Your child," I said pointing to the little feet.
"I had a miscarriage," she explained. "When the due date came, I had to do something so I got this tattoo. I didn't know it would be this big."
She quoted the scripture reference indelible beneath the infant feet from Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future. Everything happens for a reason. This helped me to get through it."
This gentle and courageous woman made meaning with grief work incarnate. On the skin of her body in which the child was created, on her inside wrist above her palm which she shows to me open in service to me and others, she memorialized her child and reshapes her loss into the hope and future of God's promise.
As Kara captured and capsuled my blood, I wondered; how is my body a testament? Oprah has her shoes.

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