I'm getting dressed for a Birthday party in late November that I'm not even sure I can attend. It looks and feels like Christmas outside and I really want to attend this celebration. However, my body is revolting just as it has before every other Christmas or Birthday party I've been invited to this winter. My body has bah-humbugged every last event by screaming in no uncertain terms to me, "NO! You shall not enjoy Christmas or any other event this winter! You are banished to the abyss of nothingness. You shall go nowhere and do nothing, thus shall be your holiday season!"
With every motion I make, my body feels heavier. I am so far beyond tired, there ought to be a page or two reserved just for me in The Guinness Book of World Records. "World's Most Fatigued Woman", yep that sounds about right.
I'm utterly drained of strength, yet I've done nothing today. Lyme does that. I don't know how, it just does, but I know that short of being hospitalized, I cannot cancel. It's too important and every last soul there is expecting me. My goal is to flat push through this fatigue like a John Deere. Truth is, my feeble attempts to navigate through this exhaustion is much more like one of those teensy Smart cars stuck in newly poured concrete.
I'm trying to go faster. Gah! I'm going to be late. My arms and legs just will not move as I'm demanding they should. I lift my arm with the intention of putting mascara on my blonde eyelashes. For a quick second I want to curse my Irish roots and ask the heavens why on earth I couldn't have been born with dark lashes that can actually been seen without black goop on them. I shake my head half with angst and half shaking cobwebs loose and trying to get my brain to focus. Now that I'm going to be far more than fashionably late, I chide myself with inevitable questions that I'm sure every "Lymie" asks themselves every now and again.
How many times have you cancelled on people in ten years, Lisa?
I can't even count.
How many times have you made your friends wait for you?
I still...I can't count. Oh ghost of condemnations past, please go away.
Because while I think two hours is sufficient time, (after all, it was that one day) clearly, today it's just not enough time for my frail chassis to prepare itself to be seen by and interact with other people, and I rather hate myself for it. Oh, I know I can't be held responsible for contracting Lyme, nor am I accountable for what it has done to me, but somewhere deep down in the Grand Canyon of my soul rests a relic of a thought. A thought that keeps telling me that by George, if I just try a little bit harder, I can somehow, magically be well. Only, today, my try along with my hope is as lost as lost can be and in the present darkness of this mad moment, I'm as sure as shootin' that there will be no recovery of it. Maybe, it is simply buried away along with all of my other numb emotions today and like an archeologist, I will have the tools to dig deeper and rediscover it tomorrow.
Today I haven't so much as a teensy tiny glimmer of hope.
Mascara on. Praise the Lord and pass the hot buttered rum, my eyeliner is done now, too. Lipstick swiped across lips that are refusing to smile today. Maybe I will feel something smile worthy later, at the party... that is, if I make it there.
I can hear my husband in the garage downstairs. He's warming up the truck and I haven't got my boots on yet. It's his sweet and patient way of nudging me to hurry, except my hurry is absent and unaccounted for.
My hair is a rebellious mess. Where is my good hairbrush? I stare in the mirror at this half-curly-with-tendrils-and-half-straight-as-a-bone-hair-weirdness. I furrow my brow and scowl at my own reflection. I feel ugly. I used to feel pretty.
Thanks genetics. Thanks Mom for the bone straight hair and thanks Dad for the curly locks but, seriously, why couldn't I just have one or the other? I vehemently dislike this bad hair day so I decide to don a hat with shimmery little sequins on it. I slip on one boot, then the other and force my feet through invisible-molasses-in-winter-time to get myself downstairs. Upon seeing me, my husband quickly walks nearer, holds out his arms, and halfway whispers, "You look radiant and your hat has little bits of glitter on it, it reminds me of you, baby doll."
I smile and melt into his arms, resting nearly all of my weight onto his strong body. He holds me steady and asks if I can make it.
"I think I can, I think I can." I whisper to him and to the little glimmer of hope that has accompanied his embrace.
He settles me into the truck and fastens my safety belt over me, because he knows my cramping hands cannot do it for myself today, but he doesn't make a fuss over it. He just humbly does what needs to be done, reading my cues along the way.
"You'll do great today my darlin.'" he whispers again, knowing loud noise is going to hurt my head today. "And if you feel too weak, you can lean on me. If you need to leave, we'll politely make our exit. Deal?"
You know me so well. Deal, I think as I nod my head slightly. It hurts to move. I find this so unfair. Really, it just plain old should not hurt to move, but bah-humbug, it does.
An hour later we arrive at our destination and begin to see folks wandering into the lovely club house we've rented for this party. Balloons and streamers deck the halls and children are romping playfully while grown ups hob nob and collaborate with one another regarding the Christmas season.
I did it. I made it here. I get to engage in this happy day. The pain and exhaustion will not win.
The little glimmer of hope grows a few sizes, rather like the Grinch's heart in Who-Ville.
I glance over at my husband and he nods knowingly; yes, she is alright for right now. Then, I fix my gaze, for longer than a few moments, on my grandson who just turned one and his father who just turned thirty and I can't look away if I tried, and I don't want to.
They are playing together and it's like a scene from one of those 1950's feel good movies that you just want to watch over and over again. It's a classic, the kind that makes you feel just a slight nip of sadness when it's over. The kind of scene you simply cannot stop watching and you suddenly crave popcorn.
I study every inch of their glad faces. I soak in their laughter like a sponge. The sound somehow reminds me of jingle bells in crisp, new snow and invigorates my spirit. My mind wanders back in time to 29 years ago when my baby was turning one and his big brother was nearly three.
My heart skips a beat, literally. For a split second I wonder if it's because Lyme has weakened my heart or if love has strengthened it in just this instant. Either way, it's welling up with pride and sheer bliss that I have lived through the worst of Lyme and I can experience this day.
My granddaughters and my other son join in this moment, unaware that I am mesmerized by them as I carefully attempt to memorize their every move. I want to freeze time somehow, I want my brain to take a snapshot so that I will never, ever forget this scene. The way their eyes sparkle and the movement of their facial muscles. The way my granddaughter's hair shines in the sunlight pouring through the window. The hearty laughs of both my grown sons mingles with the rolling belly laughs of their children.
Then, my soul is illumined with the fact that I am gazing upon the very ones who will be here long after I am not. They will carry on my legacy. Now, I know this much is true:
This fight to be here... to be right here, right now in this place, was all completely and utterly worth every millisecond of pain or struggle.
Because this, this right here is my hope. This Super Nova, this oh-my-stars-glimmering-wonderment-of-hope is mine all mine. It's the pure, delicious love I delight in, the joy I swim in. I devour it all as I breathe it in and bask in the sweet presence of love so divine that It gives me strength. Then, for an hour or so, the fatigue that has plagued me all day takes it's own nap and I am free and unencumbered to be present in this exquisite gift of the right here and now.
I whisper thank you to my God and to the love in this whole wide world that seems to have settled upon me.
Oh yes, this love has fallen upon my brow, my body, my very heartbeat and the heartbeat inside of my heartbeat. It's like the snow that falls, dusting the tree branches outside, like sweet powered sugar falling from a euphoric sky.
Love has surrounded me like a warm blanket on this wintery day and it feels like Christmas.
I smile at the faces I haven't seen in so long, and I feel as though I will make it, not just through this day, but through this entire ongoing battle, this relentless war, this ever present contention with my vile enemy, Lyme disease.
Today it will not win. No, not today. Today I have glistening, shimmering, amazing-grace-filled-hope...and not a thing can take it away.