“For truly we are all angels temporarily hiding as humans.”
― Brian L. Weiss
The morning and early afternoon were spent on her favorite chair, draped in her favorite quilt, while the warmth from an electric heating pad radiated against her skin. Her body wouldn’t let go of the ache; the fatigue was embedded too deep.
As hours slipped through her fingers, she released all hopes of being an active participant in this day; she’d wish instead. Wish for new days that didn’t resemble this, as this type of day brought so much conflict.
Awake again. An hour had passed. Two.
The light pouring in from the window meant afternoon; what did that mean for her? Hunger? No. Thirst? Maybe.
I have to pee. I should get up and pee.
Her body protested; but with awkward limbs, eyes that winced and a mouth turned downward, a figure removed herself from a favorite chair. Barefooted steps took her through the kitchen where she found him. He was roasting vegetables. Parsnips, broccoli and beets—in case she was hungry when she woke. Something about this made her exceptionally sad.
Before she shut the bathroom door behind her.
She rested in the bathroom for minutes. Knees to chin, she sat against the bathtub staring at her favorite picture. The one from the wedding; they were brilliant at weddings. She looked at her own smile and wondered when she would feel vibrant like that again.
The next words she spoke were sent in the direction of the door. “I feel like my body is full of tar.”
And it was all she could imagine: black. toxic. slow.
She didn’t hum. She couldn’t sing. And in some places the tar had hardened, clay turned nearly ceramic. Resin blocking entire channels of her little frame. And in those places where the tar was the densest, her skin screamed, distraught with its own existence.
She stood with the thin door between them and took a deep breath. Being near him was hard sometimes. Being loved and cared for required submission—to the disease, to the moment, to him.
When she stepped back over the threshold, back into the kitchen, he turned from the sink, allowing her to shuffle into his open arms. And that’s when she felt her heart give a little. Her arms wrapped under his, around to his back, where her hands moved up and down, up and down, up and down. Methodically, she combed over his shirt, as if to thank him for being so strong when she felt so weak.
The air around them shifted as his arms tightened. She stood tiny and safe. And as tears began to stream down her face he sent rings of light, with each strong beat, from his center into her hers. With her eyes closed, she could see it; the light moving through her brittle sternum, softening the tar in places, returning space to her eager body.
With their chests rising and falling together, she could sense the edges of his heart: its fullness, its strength, the sheer volume of blood and tenderness that pumped through this drum. In that moment, they were more than lovers. More than soulmates. A conversation between cells. An exchange of precious resources. A heart connection.
She kept silent. She listened to his breaths. She waited until the light faded back and she was there in the kitchen once again, the smell of roasted beets filling the air.
“That should help a little,” he whispered; and she knew that he was right.
She broke away to collect a towel before returning to the bathroom.
As she stepped into the shower, she felt the water—as hot as her bare skin could take—pour from her head to her neck to cascade down every weeping inch of her skin. She eased herself to the floor, flush with the ground.
Her head made contact and she found stillness. And as the water pounded over her torso, she opened her heart to the air above. She closed her eyes to to see them, tiny pieces of sickness, like paint chips, wash away from beneath her skin.