Blog Reader Warning: This post is not uplifting. If you are an eternal optimist, Osh Popham, or Pollyanna…stop reading now.
I am in quite a bit of pain today. My neck is so stiff I can’t turn my head. I am seriously considering going to an emergency clinic for muscle relaxants. The problem with pain is there is never a good time for it. I happen to be on vacation trying to relax, but it is pretty hard when you can’t turn your head and all you can hear is your brain screaming. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Now if you are a follower of mine on Facebook, you probably saw a different version of my vacation. You saw my smiling face as the winner of my self-inflicted Coconut Decathlon. Vacation is awesome. My smile is real. But so is my pain.
Today, when my pain was at its height, I excused myself to go float down the lazy river. I adjusted myself in the inner tube so my neck was resting as gently as it could and I prepared to distract myself to mask the pain.
First, I pretended I was baby Moses going down the Nile…being rocked gently by the water…oblivious to the alligators floating beneath. I pretended to giggle and coo at the birds and palms as they passed overhead.
Next, I became Anne of Green Gables. I relived one of my favorite moments where she lies down flat in a canoe, closes her eyes like she is dead, and launches herself down the river while reciting Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot.
As I came around the corner, I could hear the rushing falls. I pretended it was the distant sound of Niagara and I was in a barrel headed toward the edge. As the sound became intense, I crossed myself…a mighty rush covered me… but I made it out to the other side.
These tactics worked for a bit. I practiced them a lot when I lived for six grueling months with a herniated disc in my back. I learned how to put the pain in a different compartment in my head and go on living.
Sadly, this made me think of my friends back home. My dear friends and their 16-year-old son who passed away by suicide exactly one year ago today. Noah, couldn’t distract his pain any longer. And now his parents and brother…and community… are still in pain. All trying to live between the ebbs and flows of feeling the pain and distracting it. Feeling and distracting. Feeling and distracting. Like the waves under my inner tube on the river Styx.
My pain in the neck will eventually go away (I hope). Their pain won’t ever go away completely…not the way Noah’s did. I suppose they shouldn’t expect it to. None of us should really. Pain…whether physical, mental, or emotional…is either felt or distracted…until it ends. And, sadly, some pain just doesn’t ever go away.
My heart goes out to you today, my friends.