Thursday night I had a stupendous fall. Our room is already cramped, but that day (in the usual run of things), it was also messy. Bedtime was approaching, and I was just trying to clear my way through the piles of clean clothes on the bed and on the floor, and separate the items that needed to be ironed.
Our bed is sandwiched between the wall and the open wardrobe, and there’s just enough space to move around, but not much more than that. On my side of the bed sat the folded ironing board, leaning against the partition wall, and the central vapor unit was sitting in the middle of the floor, with other books and articles scattered willy nilly. Whatever made me think a central vapor unit would make ironing any more enjoyable?
The empty plastic laundry basket formed a barrier between the foot of the bed and the partition wall, blocking my passage. And rather than moving it out of the way, I made the unhappy mistake of stepping into it.
And then the laundry basket slid on the teck floor. With one of my feet inside of it.
And in a move that could win some kind of home video award, Matthieu saw one arm and one leg fly into the air before completely disappearing from view on the other side of the bed. Trying to contain the internal hysteria that threatened to overwhelm him, he peered around the bed and found me on the floor, moaning and gasping, rocking and finally crying. His half-smile disappeared and he came over to me.
“Go away. Just go away,” I gasped.
He stepped back a little.
“No, go in the other room,” I said miserably, still rocking and crying.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because you can’t stand to see pain,” I replied.
It’s true. He is so sensitive. All you have to do is talk about an injury, even a slight one, and he gives a sharp intake of breath and shudders.
When he hears that, he comes over and holds my hand. “I’m not leaving you,” he said.
His hand is warm and comforting around mine, and it does help. It actually seems to reduce the pain. Slowly – very slowly, the pain dies away as the endorphins rush in like a drug, making me feel all warm and fuzzy. But I’m still crying.
In fact, as the pain recedes, the tears come on stronger until I’m crying like a baby. Weeping. Blubbering. I cry for at least a half hour.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I said. “I don’t know why I can’t stop crying.” After a minute, I added, “Maybe I feel picked on – like Satan tripped me or something and then he’s sitting there mocking me.”
“Did you get picked on a lot as a kid?” asked my ever-introspective husband.
“No … I mean – not physically.”
I got up tentatively and sat on the bed, weak from the ordeal. Upon a cursory examination, I found the injuries to be on the right side of my head, all along the right side of my ribs, and my right thigh and elbow, but the pain that stood out the most was my left knee. I couldn’t even remember how I could have landed in order to hurt such opposing members of my body; I only remember that I thought I was going to break my neck as I was on my way down.
“It was pretty comical when you fell,” Matthieu said, as I was trying to work out how I got my various aches.
“I know,” I replied. “I heard the hesitation, and saw you trying to hold back a smile when you came around the bed. I knew it must have looked funny.”
“Ah. Maybe that’s why you wanted me to go away – because you felt like I was the one mocking you.” Having an introspective husband has its benefits.
That night the pain in my knee died down quickly enough, but whenever I used my right hand, my elbow throbbed with pain. And I had trouble falling asleep as I carefully shifted from one side to the other, even though I was so exhausted from crying.
I’ve been reading a book on prayer lately, and the first part of the book talks about how God is longing to have a relationship with us. He’s longing to hear our prayers – in a “he runs through the fields, crawls on his hands and knees, throws his arms open wide from a long way off” kind of longing to commune with us. And when I opened the book the morning after the accident, I found myself on the chapter about how God longs to wipe the tears from our eyes. That caught my attention. Because there had been tears.
Then I read Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”
And something strummed deep within me.
I’m so used to handling pain by myself, and pushing people away so I can cry in quiet, and ache in solitude. It’s the only way I know how; it’s the only way that’s safe.
But between the warmth of Matthieu’s hand around mine as I rocked back and forth in pain, and the warmth of God’s words in my heart that remedied the tears that continued to fall like a rain shower that shows no promise of stopping, I saw that there was something to letting people in when I suffer. There was something to the idea of letting them catch me when I fall.
When I woke up the next morning there were no bruises. I couldn’t believe it! There was no badge of honour – nothing to indicate that my whole body felt like it had been beaten to a pulp. It seemed unjust, somehow. I should look as bad as I feel!
But then, I suppose the suffering most in need of comfort is invisible to the naked eye.