I Feel It All

My previously thick skin has been worn down by the traumas we’ve endured.
As if each trip to the doctor brought with it a round of exfoliation
via steel wool.

Only a thin membrane covers me now,
one that is fully permeable to everything in my radius.

My senses are heightened.
My emotions are raw.
My armor is gone.
I’m feeling it all
in the Negative Space.

Before,
I could walk through my days,
things rolling off my turtle shell back,
bouncing off my thickly muscled heart.

Now,
I feel it all.
Every bit of input pierces through me,
right to the core
bringing with it unbridled feelings
that before laid dormant.

The scheduler who tells me she can’t make the appointments back-to-back,
meaning that I will have to drag my exhausted, radiation-riddled husband
back and forth to the clinic
twice in one day,
eight different times,
seems to be making a personal attack on his health and my ability to care for him.

Where before I would have gone full Caregiver Bulldog on her,
demanding a work around to best meet his needs,
this week all I could do was cry,
pulling tissue after tissue from the cardboard box on her desk
as she spit out days and times that were the opposite of what I had requested.

The unexpected harmonies wafting through the tunnel of the hospital,
created by a woodwind trio stationed in the lobby,
allow us a taste of sweetness while in this dark place.

Where before that would have just seemed like a nice Valentine’s Day touch,
this week it felt like a concert crafted just for us,
the music acting as a grow light for our withered bodies and souls
as I parked the wheelchair there for a few moments to listen.

A line in an email from a doctor,
who at this 11th hour is suggesting a major change in the treatment plan,
“I was going to call you last night to talk about this. But I didn’t,”
ignites within me an anger that boils.

Where before I would have thought about the small children I know he goes home to and the time he was likely spending with them,
this week it felt like communicating a life-saving/threatening change to the treatment plan
was just something on his To Do list that he didn’t get to,
and the rage within me brought forth tears.

The peals of laughter bubbling from our daughter’s throat
as she and her friend plan their outfits for their first big concert
release a cache of joy in my being.

Where before I would have thought nothing of it, or even asked them to quiet down a bit,
this week it feels like an audible sign that she’s doing okay,
that this reality of ours hasn’t ruined her.

The words of a friend who says,
“I love your writing,
but
sometimes it’s too much and I can’t read it because it’s too hard and I’m just not up for it,”
sting painfully.

Where before I would absolutely acknowledge that these words are not for the faint of heart, and that it’s important to pay attention to the effect things have on your being,
this week I wanted to scream,
“IT MUST BE NICE TO BE ABLE TO CHOOSE NOT TO ENGAGE,
TO JUST NOT CLICK THAT LINK,
TO NOT LET OUR TRAGEDIES RUIN YOUR DAY.
THAT IS NOT A LUXURY WE HAVE.”

The warmth of his hand in mine
as we tuck in at night,
nose to nose,
exhausted from making it through another day,
is a concrete reminder that
he’s here
with me
in this moment.

Where before I would have given it a quick squeeze before moving into a more comfortable position,
this week there is no more comfortable place on earth than hand-in-hand with my love,
layers of blankets and cats and love
protecting us in ways that my
skin no longer does.

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