Saturday, August 22, 2009

A little fiction with a lot of truth

I wrote this little story a few months ago. It's my thank you to Father God.


As my mother died, so shall I. A disease that robs me of my motor skills, my muscle strength, my ability to smile. As she died, without dignity.

Not because in the end I avoided her bedside. Not because I avoided bringing comfort that I felt devoid of but that she might have embraced.

That is not why, because God does not work that way. The whole “karma industry” is a falsehood. A lie. A ploy by the Accuser to lure one into hating God. Grace is a gift, not a salary.

I succumb to this disease because of a simple molecular anomaly. A chromosome here, an extra protein there. It doesn’t really matter. I have the disease and it will embrace me. I will not embrace it.

For ten years it has stolen bits of my life away. Some I didn’t notice until they were gone. Some I would wonder at, perplexed, and then move on. But I cannot move far. Without mechanical aids.

I can no longer speak. Early, when the words came out crooked, they were often humorous. But now they circle my mind like a pigeon without feet.

A good anchor brings control, and an end to movement. My legs are anchors.

My hands are dead birds on the ends of a branch. They grasp the pencil, but they cannot take flight.

But, after many days, I managed to scratch out two letters for my wife to read. Sweat and furrowed brow and muscle aches in my fingers. She read them at chairside: m and p.

She spent weeks trying to unravel the riddle, watching my eyes for the blink that would reward her quest. But eventually she cried on my shoulder. Then slept from exhaustion.

So I tried again. Three letters this time: m o i.

For a while she thought I had revisited my lost high school days. I’d have laughed if my lips and throat would awaken. I’m sure my French teacher would have guffawed. She had a great laugh.

One day my wife arrived home from a field trip with her niece’s kindergarten class. She was excited, singing and pirouetting in a sundress as she prepared a simple meal. When I saw the picnic basket, I grew excited too, though she could not tell. She loaded the van: blanket, oxygen bottle, picnic basket. My excitement runneth over.

And she lowered the ramp and locked my chair in place. She brushed my hair.

When she made the left turn I knew she had it. When she parked and looked at me, I blinked three times: I love you.

And here I sit, my hand gripping a pen, writing in flawless script. Complete letters. Complete sentences. Complete thoughts. It is here, at Moir Park, that I first felt your presence, Father God. And here that she and I shared shy picnics as we grew to know each other.

And it is here, on this late spring day that believes it is summer, that You have uncensored me. You have loosed my mind and hand to tell a love story.

You are uninterrupted here, save the birdsong and the tree-sway and the pollen-laden breeze that cools my forehead.

I thank You Lord, for meeting me here. Thank You for meeting my needs. I thank You for the shade.
The wind, your breath, sends maple seeds helicoptering onto the notebook. Your fragrance, green and earthy and alive envelops me. Your whispers of peace and proclamations of joy bounce from tree to tree, beak to ear. I thank You for that.

I sit in a snowstorm of seeds, caught in the middle of dueling cardinals. Both proclaim themselves the prettiest “pretty bird, pretty bird”. But I know the truth: both are as beautiful as You say.

For You are all that matters, Father. My disease, my worries, my confessions of past sins, all pale to insignificance in your presence. I thank You for that.

And I thank You for a wife who took solemnly her oath to You, and holds it tight to her breast: to love me forever, in health or unwell, in good times and in the darkness I bestowed on her. To never give up. I thank You for a wife who uses words like gallant and humble to describe me, even though I am neither. In my estimation.

I am simply beloved. By You. And her. What more. Can ask for.

Thank God you. But moments to express. Thoughts. Birdsong. Wife’s touch. Love.

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