The Graveyard of Lost Things

As we are getting ready for bed, my husband turns to me and comments, “It must be so hard, seeming fine to everyone, but hurting so much every day.”

“Yes,” I say and pause momentarily before adding, “I try not to complain.”

I try not to, just like I know he tries not to complain when I cannot carry my backpack on a vacation we had looked forward to for nearly eight months, when I cannot help drive much during the road trip because it hurts too much to sit up to drive, when I cannot help with our home-improvement projects and he is stuck doing more of the work, when my medical bills mean that we cannot order pizza on a night we’re both exhausted. Though I feel gratitude for his geniality, I also feel guilt for depending on him to understand something that is so invisible and so devastating. As I wrote earlier, though I seem fine, I am still not fine.

No one really wants to hear incessant health updates with no improvement. Few people know that I lie awake at night trying to find a position that doesn’t feel like I lost a bout with a medieval inquisitor or that every moment I bend over to tend the garden is a moment of joy and increased pain. My husband both knows and doesn’t know this. He knows when I come into the house from grocery shopping without lugging a bag of groceries to instantly ask if I’d like him to unload the car and put away the groceries (he doesn’t assume I can’t do it, and I love him for that among so many other things), but he hadn’t realized until this week that I lay awake feeling as if someone were standing on a dull knife on my back.

Sometimes, as I do now, I feel hopeless no matter how much I try to focus on the positives in my life, of which there are many. Instead, like a glacier calving chunks of herself into the sea, I lose pieces of myself that I do not know I can recover.  As the world heats up around me, I worry that every chunk lost is gone forever, mingling out in the ocean with lost memories and dreams. I worry that everything I love now is just one more thing that I will lose. It is just a matter of time until I cannot check on my bees because it is too painful to bend over and inspect the frames, even if my husband lifts and moves the boxes for me; it is just a matter of time until I cannot ride my bicycle to work anymore, even though it hurts so much less without that awful hill to climb on 13th street. As I write yet another check to the doctor, it is just a matter of time before I add to my graveyard of lost things. I wonder in these moments of painful weakness whether I will cry tomorrow when I ask if it’s realistic to have a child or if I would be bedridden by the pain. After all, I still cannot walk my dog, and he has long since stopped asking.

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