IMG_190131 Days Walking Through Chronic Illness

day seventeen


by Ross Copperman & Jon Nite

“I’ll let you look inside me, through the stains and through the cracks,

And in the darkness of this moment, You see the good and bad.”

I slowly opened my eyes. Bright lights shining above. I was laid across my husband’s strong arm. His mouth on mine. Blowing his warm breath into my limp body.

I focused on his eyes, the look of terror deep in them.  Fear etched in the wrinkles strained and taut.

It danced across my mind, this must be bad. He was frightened. Greatly affected by whatever had just happened.

My heart raced madly as I tried to sort it out.

His arm placed under me, he gently stands me up. I am a rag doll hanging in his arms. Shivering uncontrollably, though I was soaking wet.

I look around. Target. That’s where we were. The two precious grandchildren we had taken with us, a look of fright on their sweet little faces. Eyes, big and round. Full of questions, struck silent as they watched.

A crowd had gathered around. Someone had called 911, they were on their way.

“But try not to judge me, ’cause we’ve walked down different paths,

but it brought us together, so I won’t take that back.”

The first trickling down, as honey dripping slowly from its comb.

My family, now affected by the the beast that had seeped in. There, in the back of Target, puzzles and games behind us.

My grandchildren recovered quickly. Watching EMT’s work around their Nanna, the back of an ambulance intriguing. The siren loud as the car raced behind.

With each unexplained episode, my man’s worry lines grew deeper and deeper.

He was silent in his worry. Holding it in, so as not to frighten me anymore. Hovering always nearby. Frequent calls to check in.

Taking relief when my Sweet Mama came and spent the week. The woman I look so much alike, inherited the curse of my busy doing from. Stunned at my slowness. Confused and frightened by my lack of doing.

The rest of my family, not quite sure what to make of the shell I had become.

Friends I ran with, gathered at Starbucks with, laughed with, shocked.

The disease, that started with me, laid inside my brain and body, flowing over those I loved.

No longer able to run and play with the precious little ones in my life. They were confused and affected too.

Some, I sensed a resentment in. Maybe even a doubt or two. I simply had nothing left with which to explain it all.

The ones I was closest with, they gathered ’round me like a fortress. Protecting. Doing. Sitting with me in silent comfort. Praying.

Chronic illness does not just affect the one who is sick. I would even venture so far as to say they carry the most weight of the burden.

My husband, whom I once took such tender care of, now takes care of me. The things I did in the normal, I no longer do in the new. When I lend a hand with bills and such, I am likely to mess up the date, the amount, or leave out the check.

He now does all the shopping, with the help of our granddaughter. I can still make a mean grocery list! They appreciate that.

Home~cooked meals may or may not happen on any given day.

I have sent him off with the lunch box I thought I lovingly packed, with no lunch to be found inside. He chuckles sweetly when he calls, “check the fridge and tell me what you see.”

I have served him steaming hot water, because, yes, I left the coffee out.

We visit home, my family adjusts their schedules to meet my needs. The going, the doing, a thing of the past. They are content to sit around ‘neath the carport and chat. The blessing, we have made precious memories there, laughing and crying, being together. It took an illness to have this gift. To appreciate the just being together. The slowing down of time.

The trickling down, well, it is real. Another new normal.

“We may shine, we may shatter,

We may be picking up the pieces here on after,

We are fragile, we are human, 

We are shaped by the light we let through us, 

We break fast, cause we are glass.

Cause we are glass.” 

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn