aging · Family · health · ME/ CFS · relationships

Genetics

I search for father
in this pain, recall
limbs wrapped,
liniment-lathered,
how he cried out
relief beyond reach

judged his suffering
as emotional –
a karmic penalty
for a life of tyranny –
compassion lapsed.

Now, I fight with legs
that will not settle,
arms that ache to bone,
moments inconsolable
spiralling into moodiness

seems I misunderstood –
overlooked the possibility
of genetics – pain compounded
by the guilt of impotence

curse my failure
to express sympathy,
offer comfort – the habit
of retracting into defensiveness
enacted till his death –

softness not a component
of the barriers that stood
between us…

adversity · aging · Family · health · poetry

Blessings

Mother’s feet scream –
agony of her miserable condition,
underlying disease eating her.
My feet, free of calluses,
paddles slightly bent and fallen,
carry on with forgiving kindness.

Husband’s knees are red-hot pokers
shooting knife-sharp volts
with every rickety step.
Mine are knots in spindly
trunks that bear movement
graciously, allot me flexibility.

Father’s back grew weak
faltering in the end, hunched,
as if he’d born a cumbersome burden.
My back, not without its moaning,
carries me proudly erect –
like the spring sapling, winter endured.

Uncle’s heart beats erratically,
ceasing despite its mechanical support,
his life a testimony to modern science.
My heart flutters with expectancy,
aches with disappointment,
and soars with each new birdsong.

Sister’s tension rises,
the stiffness in her neck suffocating,
headaches blinding her vision.
My neck, slung now like a rooster’s,
puffs around my face like an old friend,
allows me the comfort of perspective.

Brother’s mind has seized,
lost somewhere between today
and yesteryear – never certain of either.
Mine, a constant churning cog,
gathers information, spews ideas
and bends in the face of creativity.

My eyes have seen suffering,
my hands throbbed with desire to help;
yet each bears their cross stoically,
and so I watch with compassion
and gratitude for the life I might have lived,
had my own vessel not been so blessed.

(This is an edited version of an earlier post by the same name.)

adversity · aging · disability · dreams · health · life · poetry · recovery

Evolution

Evolution takes effort –
requires a heart unburdened
by unrequited daydreams
holding me in limbo, emphasizing
past heartaches, yearning
for unconditional love.

I pedal backwards, am
overwhelmed by where
the past has led me –
exaggerated reproductions,
laughing at my proposals,
spurning attempts at reparation –
I am out of touch, stale dated.

I long to make a difference,
find value in youth – declarations
of worthiness are jeopardized
by this state of immobility –
I hang on tighter, resist
progress, believe hope
is in the past – obligations
wrench me back to present –
evolution a preferable destination.

adversity · disability · Family · health · life · mental-health · nonfiction · spirituality

On Suffering

“All I need is to win the lottery,” Mae often proclaims.

“That’s not true,” I tell her.

“But if I had enough money, my problems would all be solved.”

“No.  If you had lots of money, you would still be schizophrenic.”

She takes this in and nods solemnly.  Then she laughs.  “You’re so funny.”

“I am studying the dictionary, though.  If I can get smarter then I’ll be better, don’t you think so?”  (Mae finished nursing school with 96%).

“Schizophrenia has nothing to do with intelligence, it’s a chemical imbalance.  You are smart already.”

The conversation is redundant.  We will revisit it many times.

Mae, like many people, just wants an end to her suffering.

As a student of alternative health care techniques, and a caregiver, I too have looked for answers to the riddle of why suffering exists in the world.  I have witnessed parents watching their infant die, and young children sitting at their dying mother’s bedside.  I have met those whose disease has debilitated them to a point of total dependency; and others whose lives have changed in an instant due to an accident or violence.  And I have met many, like Mae, who are born into suffering, with no hope for a cure.  Void of answers, I am only left with more questions.

What I have come away with, though, is a sense of awe for the spirit that drives each and everyone of these people.  In the midst of so much tragedy, I have encountered strength, willingness, compassion, and incredible resilience.

I don’t believe, as some do, that suffering is a choice; I believe it is inevitable.   And in some instances, I believe that suffering can open the doors for much discovery.