Saturday, December 31, 2011

Through a Glass, Darkly

Two a.m. Searing pain in my right eye. Suddenly awake, I stagger to the bathroom mirror to see if a sword has pierced my head. Can’t see one, but then in the dark and only able to open my left eye, I can’t see much. After performing my usual migraine-mitigation routine, I return to my soft pillow with dim hope of sleep.

Eight a.m. Smoke stings my nostrils and still-aching eyes. Stumbling to the window, I see a dense lint-gray cloud lazily tumbling low to the ground from a mound of raked leaves. My husband can’t smell smoke but he turns on fans to try to suck it out of the house so my headache doesn’t worsen.

Ten a.m. Smoke hangs in the house. In our neighborhood, though smoke is no longer visible, its acrid odor is heavy in the air. I can’t breathe; I have to leave. I drive halfway across town, get out of my car, and am still surrounded by the smell. Mysterious Migraine Monster has mercifully removed sword from eye, but has now placed anvil on head. I drive to the far end of town—yup, smoky there, too—to have my glasses adjusted, which helps a little. Now, although every other inch of my face hurts, the bridge of my nose doesn’t. I ask the vision tech what’s up with the heavy smoke smell all across town. He shrugs.

Eleven a.m. All I want to do is go home and sleep and cancel my lunch date with a friend. But with a smoke-permeated house (and town), I can’t go home. I thank God for this empathic reminder to pray for two friends who currently face true homelessness. We are all homeless without God’s presence. My problem is so small. I have to get away from the smoke; I may as well drive south and muddle through lunch. Too early for lunch, I take refuge in Barnes & Noble. First stop: restroom. My pinched visage squints back at me through a hazy mirror. Are the bows of my glasses vise-gripping my temples so hard, my eyeballs have cracked like eggs? I take my red eggshell cracks sizzling around burning yolks out into the store, past Judy Collins’ blazing sapphires, past Candice Olson’s perky peepers, past Daughter of Smoke and Bone, past The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind—would that this boy could have blown away this morning’s smoke—past 1,001 slow-cooker recipes, past George Clooney’s minky orbs twinkling next to his political opinions, highly sought since he plays a politician in a movie—and finally trip into the B&N café. 

One p.m. My friend and I have lunch. She is in the most miserable throes of a cold and confesses she almost cancelled. That makes two of us who just want to be able to shut our aching eyes for a long, long time, until our owwies go away. 

When we part, we stand three feet apart and make hugging motions in the air between us. Though motivated by consideration for me, an air-hug seems somehow symbolic of this broken day when so many things do not work as they should. Despite my pain and my friend’s misery, I can laugh at our empty, robotic jerks, because I know the truth.

Although this truth looks blurry in today’s smoke and mirrors, my heart rejoices that a complete and clear day is coming …
1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 comment:

Michelle Van Loon said...

I suffered through migraines 3-15 days a month from my late twenties until Blessed Menopause and a lot of high blood pressure medication finally shut almost all of them down. I was taking expensive migraine meds for years, and I suspect the medication actually created rebound headaches for me.

I remember well what it was like to be jolted awake in the middle of the night by an ice pick in one of my temples. And I remember soldiering onward, as you did, to lunches and work, with that searing pain. Bill used to walk in the door and be able to tell by looking at me if I had a migraine going. (Maybe it was the cross-eyed, pain-preoccupied stare I'd give him...)

Someone once said so much of life is just showing up for it. You did that with your friend. May God bless you with rest and recovery, Jane.