My Body

Winefiction 002Last night in bed, I started thinking about my body. About how it aches. About the way it doesn’t move anymore, not in the ways it used to. About the way it gives me very little pleasure anymore. I mean, I still get up every day and put clothes on. I even walk my dogs most days. There’s some pleasure there. My body takes me up and down the street, along the river, and if I so choose, into the woods. The dogs definitely derive pleasure from these walks and I, too, am grateful for them.

I also still very much love hugs. And kisses, especially on the back of my neck.

I love the cool touch of the wind, and the warm caress of the sun.

I love the sound of laughter. And music. And falling water. And birdsong.

I still love the taste of good food and drink, but only late in the day after my tummy settles down from its angry-cramps-in-the-morning routine. Still, I do get to eat and enjoy doing so, which is a big part of the enjoyment of having a body. Oh, and a lovely chilled glass of chardonnay served outside in a garden—that’s pretty blissful.

Field Recordings, Paso Robles, CA

Field Recordings, Paso Robles, CA

It’s not that I am particularly decrepit for my age. I guess it might just be that I haven’t been this age before, and I am realizing how much I took this amazing body for granted for so long.

My skin, for example. I was never much enamored of my skin—too pink, too blotchy, too many freckles—and those moles. I covered my forearms throughout my entire puberty and adolescence, thinking that if anyone knew I had two moles on my left forearm, well, I’d never be loved. But my skin was amazingly sensitive. It buzzed with life and reacted to everything that touched it. Quite spectacular, thinking back.

My joints were supple. I could wrap my legs around my ears!

I ran. I ran for fun. I ran to cleanse my mind and change my emotions.

I was a sensual being. My body, well. All bodies, really, I hope. Electric.

My womb carried two babies, my breasts fed them, and my arms held them. Those were exhausting times, I remember, but oh so incredible. There was no end to the tasks needing to be done and no end to the hugely blossoming love that encompassed every simple movement. Ah, those nights rocking my baby in the dark, singing an old lullaby, afraid to get up and tuck the baby in the crib, afraid to lose the magic

.My body took me on camping trips, road trips, plane trips, and a few trips of another sort—like when I fell down a flight of stairs. What a crash. And what a healing. My body always healed.

My body brought me to my beloved classroom and allowed me to teach for many years. I remember when I could hop up on the counter while reading the scene from The Call of the Wild where the man in the red sweater breaks Buck out of his crate and all of the men in the yard jump up on the fence to watch. I remember replaying that scene in the classroom for years, and then one year, I just couldn’t make the jump. I landed on one of my eighth-grade students.

My body survived numerous surgeries, cancer, and chemotherapy.

My toes have been numb for several years now. Neuropathy from the chemo. My joints ache, especially those on the left side of my body. My skin is wrinkled. My hair is silver. I wear bifocals. I can’t hear out of my right ear. A one-mile walk leaves me exhausted. I find myself longing to go to bed with my heating pad early in the evening, and I basically never really want to get up.

My body likes to rest, and I like to try to forget about it altogether. Meanwhile, my mind considers other things. Like, maybe this is a normal part of aging. A stage of getting ready to let go of this old body and move on. So I pray, and read, and write, hoping to figure out what it is that is happening, and even if it is in fact, a real experience, or maybe it’s just a new and interesting facet of depression.

IMG_1192I look for articles about anything and everything connected with this sense of disconnectedness, wondering if anyone else feels this way, too. And then, today, my friend Stephanie posted an extraordinary article from The Washington Post about a rare illness that makes people think they’re dead. Timing is everything. I mean, it does seem that you attract what you think. Last night I’m thinking about being dead and today I’m reading this article. You can read it, too. It’s quite fascinating:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/zombie-disease-makes-people-think-they-have-died/2015/10/30/ca8ab52c-532f-11e5-933e-7d06c647a395_story.html.  Though it doesn’t describe my experience, in particular, it does contain some familiar aspects of what I’m trying to describe.

I remember, for some reason, right now, something my brother told me after our mom died. He said she came to him and said, “It’s okay, Billy. It’s ok.” That’s all.

I was sort of miffed. Why didn’t she come to me? But I guess she knew Billy would tell me. And maybe that’s all I need to know.

It’s ok.

What do you think?

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7 Comments

Filed under Aging, Depression, Writing

7 responses to “My Body

  1. Beautifully written, both funny and bittersweet. I can really relate to the loss of pleasure and zest for life. What’s the deal? I think maybe it is depression-related and not age-related. I hope so, because otherwise, it’s just going to keep getting worse. I’ve been experimenting with diet and supplements with some good results. Stay strong, sister!

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  2. Thank you, Andrea! I agree, depression is the better diagnosis. I’d love to hear what you are eating! (: Looking forward to your next post.

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    • My answer to the food thing is complicated, so I’d better write an email. Mainly, though, regular protein throughout the day. Regular LIGHT exercise throughout the day. Omega 3 fish oil (high dosage), Holy Basil, Siberian ginseng. I read a book called The Chemistry of Joy by Henry Emmons, and found it helpful and compassionate. It combines western and eastern approaches. It’s nice to be able to communicate about this with someone!

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      • Hi, Andrea. I will check out the Emmons book and look into eating more protein (regularly), Holy Basil, Omega 3, and Siberian ginseng. I am adding several “baby” walks throughout the day, extremely easy to do right now since I’m at my daughter’s house alone during the day with her two tiny doggies. A block is like a mile to them with their itty bitty paws and legs. I hope your life and your writing are humming along splendidly! Lori

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      • I Lori–I don’t know how I didn’t see this! Let me know how it goes. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing: baby walks. It’s hard to believe considering the epic hikes I used to go on.

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  3. Wow! Damn girl, this is just plain great writing! You’ve managed to capture in a few paragraphs the angst that many of us feel from time-to-time; perhaps more times than not. Of course, I always expect to feel great, but I didn’t always feel great when I was sixteen (it was growing pains, muscle pulls, cuts and bruises back then), so why should I expect to now that I’m pushing 67, have had three major surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, and a bone marrow transplant? But the thing is, I love waking up in the morning and hearing the birds singing to each other and the trade winds blowing through the coconut trees. I roll over and see Bobbie sleeping peacefully and I’m just so thankful I get these extra days – regardless of whether I feel like I’m wearing Frankenstein’s footwear and can’t figure out if I’m coming or going as I walk to the bathroom. Then sitting on the toilet, I realize that buzzing I hear is not coming from the fan above my head, no it’s coming from inside my head. Still, a bit later while I’m washing my face, I look in the mirror and can’t help but chuckle to myself and think, “I’m one lucky sons-a-bitch and one tough motherf’er!” Do you see yourself the same way? You should. Love and aloha, Larry

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