For the past 4 days, my body has been filled with bad pain. The first was from arthritis in my knees that got totally out of hand, and then from my one foot, probably brought on by the strange positions I assumed when struggling to walk on painful knees. In both cases, my ability to walk, hell … to get to the bathroom! … was in grave doubt. Putting weight first on my knees and then that foot was so painful I really didn’t know if I could pull it off.
My doctor returned my call and helped a lot, and eventually the combination of various treatments settled the knee pain down, and the foot pain was manageable the minute I put on my shoes and good orthotics. I’m grateful to be out of pain … I wasn’t at all sure it would happen this time!
Yesterday my friend B. came to visit. We straightened out a misunderstanding that had serious undertones – most misunderstandings do if one is honest, but
before very long we were collapsed in laughter. Warmth rose between us and spread all over the room.
Today, my longtime housekeeper was here after a month’s absence (can you spell dust bunnies that morph into dinosaurs?), and we too had to straighten out a small issue that had come up. Afterwards, our mutual affection was tangible. We joked and exchanged teasing as she worked…
Me: “You always want to vacuum right where I’m sitting…”
She: “Well you’re always sitting right where I want to vacuum!”
Laughter whose base is true affection will cause the warmth in our hearts to spread all over the room.
Right after she left, the young woman who helps me with my paperwork and other tasks my A.D.D. makes problematic arrived. We’re friendly by now, and she talked about some big problems with a roommate she’s anticipating and I was attempting to be of help. I’m 79, and learning, growing and changing has always been a large chunk of who I am, because I hated being the big fuck-up I was …and the lessons I’ve learned along the way can be helpful when I present them in the right way and to a receptive listener.
Anyway, she was here for 5 hours, most of which were spent talking. We got the tasks done we’d set out to do but she felt I was paying her too much. Well I guess I was, but as I explained to her, I missed a therapy session because of my knees, and so even though we were talking a lot about her issues, I was sneaking in a lot of stuff about myself, and it felt good. At that, we collapsed in laughter, as we had been doing throughout the hours together.
The warmth of our caring spread across the room.
As each of them had left, my house was not just cleaner and clearer, it was filled with joy. It’s ephemeral of course. By my age, one has learned the lesson well that everything passes. But also, these days we are all having to face that life on our planet seems more and more ephemeral.
Both pain and the freedom from pain are ephemeral too. Still, when I remember the looks on the faces of these three women – and I know, I honestly know, that I brought joy into the room and they accepted it and reflected it right back – I am amazed at the miracle of how much healing we can give each other, how much despite our real sadnesses and pains, even despite the terrors that lie ahead, the gift of friendship can still reach deep into our hearts, spreading warmth through our souls and our homes.