Gnarly. Knuckles so bone-crushing, painfully inflamed. His hands once so softly caressing, able to touch me without groans. I surrender to his agony. His pain and loss I share, but cannot alleviate for either of us.
Sero-positive Rheumatoid Arthritis is twisting his joints into pretzels. He writes under the nom de plum “Nawbie” (Knobby) Wordsmith. Correction – he once wrote. Holding a pen is tormentingly difficult. He has surrendered his beloved computer to me, his sorrowing wife – because the very thought of keying – touching his tender fingerpads to his keyboard is too miserable to endure.
When we first married, his hands were so sweetly loving and caressing. Memories linger – lovely – so lovely. Today I barely recognize his swollen mitts. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Parkinson’s, his left arm beats violently to the rhythm of his pain – his incredible, life-devouring agony.
COPD, Severe Asthma and Emphysema complicate and compromise him. I am so very helpless, and yes – very angry. Angry because he cannot depend upon me to ease his grindingly scream-inducing rage. His agony becomes mine as I forget that it his pain speaking to me rather than my actual lover.
I met him five years following his horrible diving accident. So darkly handsome at twenty-seven. He hid his shaking hand in his black leather biker’s jacket. Terribly intense and yet so tender and compassionate, he reached into my heart and saved me from the self-hatred overwhelming me. His humor and his love eased my searing pain.
Now, forty years later – I watch as he tries to hide his pain from me. He doesn’t succeed. I awake to his discomfort, his inability to sleep. Pain pills take the edge off – sometimes. Medication has caused him to lose his beautifully thick dark curly hair. He is still so beautiful to me. His dark eyes, shadowed with pain – fringed with lashes most gals would envy. He still is prettier than me. Sigh. He has ground his teeth down to the nubbins. So insidious – teeth clenching pain.
Together we ride – no Harley today. In our power chairs we get out and enjoy fresh air and friends. Sometimes pain pills cloud both of us, and we spend the day in bed. Companionably, I snuggle with him – albeit distantly – for fear of touching him.
We pray. Lots. We praise YHWH. We take comfort in Him. We lean on Him. He is our staff, our life – the only One we can trust to guide our faltering steps. We discovered our need for Him four years after we were married.
When we first met, I was still married to a man who would not or could not love me back. I married him to help him fight his dragons, his mental and emotional torment. He wanted a mother, not a wife, and I was throwing my life away because he wanted a divorce. My adultery was a horrible search to discover my womanhood. I was on a suicide mission when Mom and Dad introduced Mike to me. A taut thread of angst:
"You threw me away!" I hurled in anger -
harsh words spat out to slash, maim and scar.
Trembling with fury, I sought out a lover
who eagerly transformed me into
the passionate wanton
you wouldn't tame.
You couldn't tame.
I loved you so.
I, being a virgin, eager for love -
stunned by the threat of divorce,
fled to a man so different from you -
tossed my life in his van.
We escaped to Canada.
You wanted the divorce.
Five years of hollow love -
your rejection still stabs.
I blamed you for being too babied, too weak
to fight for me - love me, just want me stay -
I wrestled with hate, rejection and fear...
"Please find me, please look" - and I would pray
Somehow you would.
But you never came.
Why did I hope?
I still loved you.
When the paperwork came, the divorce decree -
My lover and I - we married so fast
Life had restarted, you've long been forgotten -
or so I thought, but the pain hadn't passed.
It took four years to love
him who saved my sanity
and taught me to laugh
and relinquish my grief.
Forty years - Years filled with agonizing pain and wonderful promise. We cling to our staff – God’s wondrous Word, and look so very much forward to no more pain, no more tears – just a beautiful forever at Jesus’ Knees . . .
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