As part of a project I'm working on I decided to write some short pieces. Snapshots of life that are useful to see. I call them, 'lifebites'.
This is #1. I wrote it after thinking that the...
...difference between a painting and a photograph is that they both capture something beautiful, But a photo locks it away forever like a bird in a cage or a butterfly under glass. Whereas a painting captures but also sets free like a beautiful lifechanging moment that whilst intense is fresh every time its experienced.
Hope its useful. Enjoy.
Sarah had been stuck in a chair for as long as she could remember. If there had ever been a time when she could walk, she couldn’t remember it. It was a hard life, not just on her, but her parents.
It was painful for Dianne to see her brilliant daughter trapped like this. It hadn’t gotten any easier with time, only more depressing. An ache of sympathy consumed her as she gazed down at her child; tears were forming in her eyes. She wished that there was something she could do, anything to help her, but she was powerless and it was she who felt disabled.
Sarah had been born perfect, whole and with complications, a genetic vulnerability. Her parents had been brave when they’d heard the news and had cherished her passionately, doing all they could to protect her from the harshness of life, but despite their doting care the worst had happened. It had only been a minor accident but it was severe enough to leave her disabled for life. That was what the doctors had told them back then.
Even before the accident they had lived with the fear of it all their lives. They’d been hopeful of course that such a tragedy would never occur, but always in the depths of their minds had lurked a fear which had worn dark rings of worry around their eyes. The day their worst fear had been realised, they thought it had all ended.
Dianne stood over Sarah protectively, watching her with a mother’s adoration. So much had happened and so little had changed, but in the last months the doctors had spoke of those small changes with great excitement. Slowly they had stopped talking to her like a mourner perched permanently over the grave of her lost one and had slowly become more animated. Now in the previous weeks they were enthused and showered her with phrases and jargon she couldn’t hope to understand, but she had understand their excited gestures, she had understood the joy in their eyes. Hope.
She spoke slowly, her cracked face luminous with a courage she could barely recognise; “Come on now, Sarah. I know you can do it.”
Sarah turned her head a nervous smile flickering briefly on her face. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can.”
“Just try, I believe in you.”
“I know that. It’s just that…”
Dianne knew exactly what the problem was. After such swift progress they had reached the turning point. This was the moment of truth and after all the courage Sarah had shown, after all the strength and determination not to give up or be constrained by her situation, Sarah was afraid. Just like her parents were afraid. Afraid that now after so much heart-ache where the journey’s end seemed in sight; what if it was all too good to be true? What if as she tried with all the hushed hopes of those long traumatic years rising, she just couldn’t do it? What if all it had all led up to was a harsh inevitable reality?
Sarah had bourn so much tragedy and tasted so many times the pain of failing, but Dianne knew this could be the straw that broke the donkey’s back. If she tried now and found she just couldn’t do it, her heart would break and never fix. Sarah was scared; she had good reason to be.
“I’m not afraid Sarah.” The tears and shimmering radiance of her affection twinkled in her eyes. “I’m not afraid any more, I can’t be.” Dianne’s throat felt painfully constricted and her lips trembled but she fought to make herself heard. “I was afraid, so very afraid from the moment the doctors told us about the chances of this happening and when I would hold your delicate body.
“I lived and dreamed of fear, I learned to accept it, to recognise it and cope with it as reality. Then as when the accident happened, that fear bloomed violently within me. The doctors told me you would never walk you would never be able to live a normal life like other children. My fear took me over in a way I had never known before. It made it harder for me to be your mother even though I loved you all the more for it.
“Then when the doctors told me how much progress you were making and my hopes rose ever so slightly I was scared again Sarah. I don’t know if I was ever that scared. I couldn’t bear to have my hopes raised only to have them broken again, it was fear enough for all of us and you were so strong for me even when it was you who needed me to be strong for you.
“But I see you now, Sarah, with the same joy I saw you with when you first entered my life. I see you now with the same love I should have seen upon you with all these years. Fear has made a poor substitute of your mum, but I see you now, clearly. Sarah. My beautiful daughter and I need you to know…that I’m not afraid anymore.
“I know how the fear must be eating up at you inside and how much you must need me. But believe me when I say, ‘I am unafraid, and I believe in you’.”
No words were uttered for a few moments, but years of suppressed conversations passed silently between them as each held the other’s gaze. That look formed a chain of connection as true and sure as the cord that had first joined them.
“When you were growing inside of me, you heard my heart beating. Before your own heart had developed, mine beat for you. Before your own lungs tasted air, I breathed for you and before you had life, you lived deep inside of me; secret and hidden. I was always yours and always for you. You were loved by me silently, secretly. So quietly I didn’t know it until I realised you had taken root and were growing in me. Even before that moment you were taking something of yourself that had been hidden in me and making it you. Someone I never knew, but always loved.
I love you Sarah. I love you and I am always yours and I am always giving birth to you. With every moment you grow more perfect in my eyes and show me something new and more amazing. In every moment I am giving birth to you and am learning anew just how fiercely and deeply I love you.”
There was a pause.
“I know you can do it. I’m just standing here with my hands open, waiting, as I’ll wait for ever, for you to take what ever you need. So please, don’t be afraid. There’s no need to be afraid anymore.”
Sarah looked at her teary face, her own eyes painfully dry, and saw the soul of her mother shinning brilliantly. As reassurance filled her and added strength to her own she turned forward and set herself to her task.
She gathered all her will and determination and placed her hands firmly on the arms of the chair. She took a deep breath and started to push. Gently at first and then as nothing happened she began to push more insistently. She pushed as hard as she could, teeth gritted together, muscles straining and still nothing happened.
She slumped, close to tears, but didn’t dare give up! She drew another breath and gripped the arms even more tightly than before and began pushing again. Her face was twisted into a fierce scowl and her jaw tightly clenched. Her arms were pushing and pushing and pushing for all they were worth. She was trying as hard as she humanly could but still nothing happening.
Still she pushed on. Through the pain and the screaming agony she pushed on. Her burning muscles tensed even harder and she forced herself to dig even deeper. Any other thought was blocked out. Every other intention was savagely crushed. Even the despair that threatened to come crashing down at any moment, she managed to hold at bay.
She roared and screamed inside her head, scrunched her eyes so tight she thought they would burst! She bit down on her belief as fiercely as she could and screamed at it do something. ‘Move! Move! Move!’ She couldn’t feel how badly her body was hurting, or how hard her heart was hammering. All she could feel was that she hadn’t shifted an inch and just as her battered muscles cried ‘enough’ and started to buckle, just as her brimming eyes were overcome flooded with hot tears even as her exhausted body was giving in, she felt movement!
Relief flooded through her and she wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. She wanted to believe it, but she couldn’t, but her exhaustion suddenly drained away and her complaining muscles felt new life! Sweat and tears ran down her burning red cheeks and a smile she hadn’t realised was there, grew. She couldn’t believe this was happening, it was too much. It was beautiful, it was painful, it was surreal but it was really happening! She wanted to deny it. For so long it had been impossible, for such a long, long time it had been unthinkable. She didn’t want to hurt now, she didn’t want to this dream to come true incase she suddenly woke up and realised it was just a fantasy. She wanted to deny so badly! Yet she did believe and she did know with all of her heart that it was only the beginning and she was certain with a conviction strong enough to break her that everything was going to be beautifully, bright and glorious!
She focused more intensely and with body and mind pushed harder, ecstatic that she could feel herself rising! Pushing furiously and feverishly desperate not to loose her miracle, crying with fear that she might falter now, crying with joy knowing it was going to be perfect. Heat and emotion threatening to overwhelm her, she pushed harder, she reached and dug down deeper than ever before, heart pumping desperately, her eyes were almost rolling. Nausea was rising, dizziness too, her body crying out for oxygen. She wouldn’t let herself breathe yet, so close.
Euphoric with success and embraced by exhaustion. Still she dug deeper and deeper and screamed out loud with real anger. Furious, mad rage welled in her stomach and mixed with her deep euphoria, shooting out around her body life lifeblood. Sweat burned her eyes even as tears blinded her; but through the cloud of confusion and panic and pain. Through the thick mucus that was bubbling around her mouth when she grunted and was dribbling down her chin. Through the melting hot agony that seared through her wracked and shattered muscles, her belief was steady and calm. Her mind was bright to a near painful brilliance. Her spasming efforts were buoyed stronger and more firmly by gentle reassuring undercurrents that she was going to succeed, that it was going to be perfect, that she was moments from pure glory.
Suddenly she felt free and easy, and with grasping hands she squeezed the padded arms and hauled herself upright!
She stood there then victorious.
She stood there victorious and gazed down tranquilly upon the scene that surrounded her. Light headed and ecstatic, the greatness of the achievement took her in it’s sweet current like an ocean of deepest serenity.
Then the furious pain of her exhausted body cut in and her ragged breathing began. She stood there before her parents gasping for air almost collapsing. Arms twitching, eyes blinking, nose streaming. Almost dying before them and having given so much life. Shaking and crying, emotionally and truly overwhelmed now, she fell into the deep, welcoming embrace of her loving parents. None of them could really believe it, but they none of them were contesting the reality. It was a long time sinking in and the delight that touched them then was forever. Sarah smiled.