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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)

TITLE: Gnarly
By Judith Gayle Smith


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:

"The Adulteress"

"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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This article has been read 597 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 02/08/13
Wow! Powerful raw emotions come forward in this well written entry. Thank you for sharing your journey, and may God and His word continue to embrace your life.

Thank you for sharing.

God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 02/10/13
This is so descriptive at so many levels. How did you fit it all beneath the 750 word ceiling?
A wonderful picture of God's in spite of all that can go wrong. May you know his continued blessing.
Richard Hicks02/10/13
I could feel the emotion in your words. Very nicely done.
Danielle King 02/11/13
Phew! S'cuse me while I wipe the steam from my specs. Seriously, this is a 'bare all' entry filled with passion and torment. I don't know whether it's fact of fiction, but I suspect it's factual for you to be able to convey the emotion so well. If so, it's brave of you to share it, and triumphant as you declare your reliance on, and love for God. Well done.
lynn gipson 02/11/13
I love the way you describe your love for your husband. Your journey sounds similiar to mine in the early years. This was a powerful read. My prayers are with you, and thank you for sharing this well written story.
Bea Edwards 02/11/13
Wow this was so multi-faceted and potent. Great word and emotion pictures!
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/12/13
Your passion comes through so clearly, it feels like truth. I think you really have two pieces here--the story and the poem--and each could stand alone on its own merits.
Judith Gayle Smith02/12/13
KJV 2 Corinthians 12:6 "For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me."

Susan Montaperto02/13/13
A powerful story full of pain and joy and the love of Christ. Thank so much.
God bless.
Alicia Renkema02/16/13
You are a real wordsmith! This was a very gripping tale, I too suspect it is factual. I am just so thankful that we do all have our Lord Jesus' staff to lean on. Very intense piece; I pray God's heavenly grace and peace for you as you continue life's winding journey.