Thursday, December 9, 2010

Memories of the Wheelchair Days

Life's been too good lately, if you know what I mean. I'm not so pessimistic that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am trying to enjoy the happy while it's here. Earlier this week, when I realized I wasn't going to be able to finish a paper in time, in spite of all the research and effort I'd put into it, I started laughing- literally laughing out loud. Just like, oh well, it was bound to happen sometime! I sound a little manic here, but I'm actually not. Just happy.

I'm generally wicked happy and in a great mood almost all the time now, but it's not so far removed that I don't remember some really horrible years I had, mostly in Chicago, when I was in a wheelchair because the CFS was so bad, and I really hated people like me--you know, the bouncing around, cheerful kind of people. I have these very vivid memories of wheeling around my undergrad college campus, staring at people's feet, and wanting to just run the hell into them with my footrests, especially people who were overly nice to me or tried to open doors for me, or stopped me in the hallway because they wanted to pray for my healing (no lie, this happened on several occasions, it was a Bible college after all). I was so angry, so incredibly angry, sick, and unhappy. For years, you know? I don't know how my then-new husband put up with me, but he stuck it out, constantly supported me, used to all but carry me up or stay with me as I miserably crawled up the two flights of stairs to our damnable tiny one-room apartment (most of the smaller apartment buildings in Chi-town don't have elevators). I think a lot of lesser men would have left me.

So I think back to that person, and it seems incredible that it was actually me. At the time, one of the things that angered and hurt most was how hard it was for people to continue to caring about what a hard time I was having- people who were supposed to care, like friends, or church. People might care for a moment, a week or two, but all anyone wants to hear when they ask "how are you?" is that it's getting better, not the same or getting worse. But sticking it out for the long haul with a sad or sick person? For months, years? One of the Bible verses that still resonates with me is "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn." Be willing to hear that the answer to "how are you?" is "man, not good, not good at all." Especially around the holidays, when holiday cheer makes the juxtaposition of melancholy feel all that much more heavy.

No great resolution here, just let's try to love on people more.

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