“Marv, she’s out in the gazebo again. Shouldn’t you go to her?”
It was a gorgeous Spring day. Flowers, their buds opening up to the sky, gave a heady fragrance in the air. Squirrels played tag, robins and sparrows feathered their nests, and dewy blades of grass rolled, en masse, across the plains while glistening tree leaves danced to the music of new life.
But Miriam, for the first time, appreciated none of it. She sat on a sun-drenched bench, shoulders slumped, head bowed and hands lying limping on her lap. Escaped tendrils of her un-kept hair kissed her neck and cheek, unnoticed. And she sat, only moving to swat at a scavenging fly on her arm or wiggling sleeping, prickly limbs for circulation. Her ethereal cornflower-blue eyes stared listlessly at nothing in particular. The essence of her usual bubbly personality had shriveled down deep inside her empty womb like the Wicked Witch of the West’s body beneath Dorothy’s hurricane-driven house.
“Believe me, I’ve tried, Doctor. But she’s so detached, it doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m with her or not.”
She was in a place she had never been before, a nothing place that had no end, no future and no hope. There was no victory over the Giant this time. He had finally won, his cancer-ridden scepter lunging into the depths of her soul even as it condemned her body to chemotherapy. It was as if a wicked fairy godmother had waved her magic wand around Miriam’s uterus, extinguishing any spark of vitality or desire.
“Does she converse with you?” as the perplexed doctor shook his head.
“When we first returned home from the hospital; now it’s just in mono syllables.”
The hysterectomy had emptied her soul as surely as it had her womb. This nothing place was safe and quiet. She didn’t have to think or do or feel here. But it came at a high price. She also could not create here—or, imagine—or hope or dream—or write. She remembered, from afar, that she used to care the most about writing; letters, journals, essays, stories, poems, research papers, articles and especially, stories for the grandchildren. Now ‘twas as it her well of imagination had dried up along with her hollowed-out uterus.
“It’s important for you not to give up on her, Marvin. Mayhap she feels comforted by your presence and connects in a subconscious, ambiguous manner,” the doctor continued.
“Have the children visited? How did they react to her altered appearance?”
“They were shocked at that, of course, but more so about her lack of interest in anyone or anything around her. That was to be expected, at the very least . . . Angela couldn’t make it, though. Baby’s due any day and her physician thought travel too risky.”
Hour by hour, day by day, week by week, life for the retired couple remained stagnant and locked in a nightmarish time-warp. Miriam remained much the same, her feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, her dearest friends. Memories sustained and occupied her waking hours and inner conversations between herself and imaginary characters became her reality.
“It’s a miracle,” Marv shared the astounding news with his wife’s visiting doctor, “just look at this,” waving a sheaf of papers under the doctor’s nose.
“She’s writing again, then?! Wonderful! How did it all happen? Did you taker her to the Gill Psychiatric Care Center as I recommended? What kind of treatment was administered?” gazing at the idyllic scene of Miriam surrounded by grandchildren from the kitchen window.
“Angela brought the baby and wrapped her mother’s arms around the tiny bundle. Lisa was cooing and gurgling and blowing little bubbles like babies do, you know, when Angela signaled me over to see that she had removed her supporting hands from under the baby and Miriam was holding Lisa all be herself—then, began rocking back and forth, humming a nursery rhyme as familiar to Angela as her own skin.”
“Wow! I’m getting goose bumps!”
“That was the beginning of her amazing return to us. And, she REMEMBERS where she has been all these weeks! She’s writing it all down to publish the material for the After-Cancer Foundation,” delightful amazement spreading across his features like a rainbow after a storm.
Thankful, cleansing tears coursing down both their cheeks, the two men knelt together in grateful prayer to the One Who had the little bitty baby and the hurting grandma together in His hands all along.
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