My knees dug into the floor, thighs tucked and settled under my hips, and forehead pressed down into the mat. I let my sweat and tears blend as they splattered beneath me. I didn’t bother moving my outstretched arms to wipe, this position felt too good, too safe.
The night before, with laundry hung over the antique couches that were once pristine and too fancy for street clothes and unwashed hands, we sat feet away from his hospital bed. We partook in polite conversations, taking quick dips into the possibility of death and grief, and emerging moments later gasping for relief and changing the subject.
His pants slid off his backside and the crotch hung low like a pair of hammer pants. With a grimace, he pushed his body back into the couch to find a better position. My eyes looked away and fingers swiped the passcode on the cellphone to distract my thoughts of mourning and wailing. I take a look at the pillow behind his back on the couch, and I fluff it and whisper, “Is that okay?” There is nothing easy about this. Going to the bathroom requires untangling the oxygen tank tubes, giving it enough slack, and avoiding the corners and doors of their old one family home. To walk up and down the steps, get dressed or brush teeth would be to burden his ailing body.
I wake up the next morning, with eyes glued to the screen of my telephone. Checking my work calendar and I see the yoga class scheduled into my lunch break. I’m tempted to skip out, until I reread Victor’s words from a Facebook posting he made before I went over his house the night before. I was on the couch in his living room, working on a post about dieting when I first read it. I didn’t say a word to him, even though I could see the light from the TV exposing the shape of his feet beneath the blankets. I swallowed the words and stored the message:
I think about what I used to consider “problems” before I was diagnosed, and I laugh cuz I realize that those problems are absolutely NOTHING compared to what I have to deal with now. The only thing I wish is that I was in possession of this knowledge before I was diagnosed, it would’ve made my life before so much easier and less stressful.
So I guess if I have one message for those of you who are healthy, it’s don’t sweat the small stuff. If your job is pissing you off, you’re running low on money, or that shirt makes you look fat. Whatever the issue is, if you really stop to think about it, its so small, you’ll always find your way through it and live to fight another day. As long as you have your health you have everything!
I’ve stayed away from posting about my struggle and fight this whole time cuz I’m not the type of person to put my personal business out there, but it hasn’t been a walk in the park. That said, I feel would be doing a disservice if I said nothing. I’m not here preaching or trying to start a movement, I just feel like I’ve been given this unique knowledge, and I wanted to share it with you all. What you do with it is up to you.
I went to the sauna/yoga studio without a towel or a yoga mat, but with lots of anxiety about being fatter than the other girls and my hair extensions falling out in front of the entire class. The instructor assured me that I’d be fine and told me to retreat into child’s pose whenever I felt overwhelmed, “Make sure to take care of your needs while you are in there. Rest when you need it. Drink water. Listen to your body.” She had no idea about the extensions and I felt relieved that she couldn’t tell.
During the class, with my ass in the air and palms digging into the mat searching for balance and the ease of pain, I inhaled and exhaled five times as instructed by the ominous voice from the back of the studio. My legs quivered and breath shortened. I walked my feet up to my hands and straightened my spine, pushing my chest up in the air to come out of downward dog. Arms emerged from the sides of my body and floated over my head. I stepped back into warrior pose and pushed my hearts up into the sky. I could only feel the weight of what slept inside my heart. I wanted the hurt and fear, thumping against my ribs, trapped in the sturdy frame, to burst out of my body.
“...you’ll always find your way through it and live to fight another day.”
On my back, with legs dancing and a cool draft wisping through the cracks of my toes, I let the balls of my feet, my ankles, my calves, and my thunderous thighs take a rest. I wiggled my torso until the core of my body held all 210 lbs of my weight. I floated for a minute; closing my eyes to rest. I didn’t know what position would be moving into next, and I didn’t care. Whatever was thrown at me next was going to be just fine because at least I’m fortunate enough to even have a chance to try.