I was in bed for three days with a bad cold. Fever that made me sweat and gave me chills, body ache, sore throat, exhaustion. I was so tired that I told a friend in a text that I could not text because texting was too tiring. These three days reminded me of the two years I spent in bed at my grandmother’s eating chocolate cake and cheese danish and showering every other week.
These two years had me trapped beneath a stone slab laying on my chest and abdomen. It cracked, releasing me when I needed to go to the toilet or eat. On my trip to the bathroom, I ignored my reflection in the mirror, knowing it would only prove how dismal I felt and how hollow eyed I was.
I was so sensitive to sound that my grandmother’s foot steps down a carpeted hall drove me to madness. I wanted to shout at her “please stop walking and learn to fly” knowing she would do her best to step silently. As for flight, well, that belonged to another reality, another space and time. My grandmother would have done anything to make life more bearable for me, thus the chocolate cake and cheese danish.
I spent two years reading suspense novels, falling asleep to the murder of Joe and Alice, only to wake miserable once again, seeking solace in the world of books.
So having this cold frightened me. I thought how easy it would be to let the stone slab slip into place; armor against an unknown world. I had to remind myself that those two years were sixteen years behind me; lost to the ragged T-shirts I would put on one on top of the other hoping to mask my body odor.
It amazes me how true it is that our bodies hold memories. My body remembers that painful time of wishing I would die because I could not cope with the sun, I could not cope with waking, I could not cope with my grandmother loving me so much as to not be critical of the fact that I could not leave the house.
And then I left the house. I have had sixteen years of leaving the house. There is joy in my life today. Life is a steady stream of occurrences. I eat salmon and green salads. I bathe regularly. Simply said, I love. I love the way the breeze moves over my skin. I love the touch of my friends as we embrace, which will repeat itself the next time we meet.
My grandmother is dead now, but I love the way I can hold her memory in my palm, hear her feet sliding over the carpet, stare at her photo, knowing she is not missing but rises with me as I leave the house.
(I promise my next blog won’t be so long!)