“I’m not kidding about LA, Kendra. I really want you to come meet me and spend some time away. We’ll go to a comedy show, We’ll sing Beyonce at the top of our lungs, we’ll eat good food and crazy amazing donuts. And we’ll hang on the beach and in the mall. One weekend. It’s just 2 days. That’s it. You deserve it. And I miss you.
Think about it. Talk to the Red Knight. Say yes. Lets have some fun for two days in LA!”
I read, and reread the email–
the pit in my stomach intensifying-
there was no way in the world that I could hop a plane to LA.
It hurts when I fly-
the Red Knight has to work-
right now isn’t a good time-
E needs me-
excuse after excuse easily listed itself in my head.
I just couldn’t go,
I was just going to have to tell my sister no.
I thought that the Red Knight would vehemently reject the idea-
that he would be on my side.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said, “you should do it, guilt free.”
The pit in my stomach was almost nauseating.
Several pep talks later I landed in LA-
almost worry free.
One plate of chicken and waffles later the pit in my stomach was gone
my heart beat seemed normal
I could breathe easily.
We drove around LA, my sister and I, neither one of us with places to be-
forgetting our worries-
laughing as we carelessly felt the ocean breeze on our necks.
The first day the pit in my stomach had been named, had been spoken out loud-
but I didn’t want to believe it-didn’t want to believe that it was exacting that much power over me.
The 2nd day though, the 2nd day I knew- I knew why they had told me I need a vacation-
why am I always so anxious?
Why is the pit in my stomach causing me to keep my curtains shut? Causing me to shrink away from the things that used to bring a smile to my face? Is this why I can’t sleep at night?
I tell my neurologist this on Tuesday and he nods his head knowingly–
He finishes typing on his computer and faces me.
“I feel like I’m never going to beat this,” I say.
“You had a stroke,” he begins, “You’re never going to go back to your life before your stroke. So, no, you can’t really beat this.”
I knew this-but it’s one thing to know it– and it’s another thing to know-to hear it from the mouth of your doctor. . . .
“You need to go talk to a psychologist. After a stroke-depression, anxiety, ptsd are not uncommon as your brain was literally changed.”
My fingers are moving over one another, I’m not sure where to look.
“You need help!,” I hear my best friend’s voice ringing in my head, “You’re trying to do everything like you used to and you just can’t. It’s like telling someone who doesn’t have legs to jump rope. Are you going to get mad at them for not jumping rope or are you going to help them jump rope? You need help. Get someone to come help you during the day with E, get someone to help you with housework–just get help!”
When did the pit grow so big?–
When did my stomach become a gnawing cavity stretching to my feet?
I’m standing in front of a gaping hole wondering what to do next. . .
Do I jump in? Can I ignore it?
My phone rings suddenly yesterday afternoon-less than 24 hours after my doctor’s appointment-
his number is flashing on the screen.
The pit is pulsating now-I don’t want to answer-
“He found someone for you talk you, near you,” the voice on the other end says.
Apparently I’m facing it.
Dear Pit: This is to notify you of your imminent eviction.
I’ve wondered if I should say anything, if I should write this down-
maybe it’s too personal.
“Everyone is struggling,” one of my sisters says, “I think it’s good to know that everyone is dealing with something, everyone. Which means we should all be a little kinder.”
I nod my head on the other end.
“This is a reality check, a tough one,” E’s godmother says, “We talk about how people forget you have limitations because you look normal. . .I think sometimes you forget too.”
I see their words forming all around me-
a bridge as I slowly navigate away from the edge of the pit–
Dear Me: That pit isn’t going to evict itself. Too bad about that whole-you’re never going back to your old life thing or whatever—guess you’ll have to do what you were always meant to actually do. . . .
I pick up the phone and dial the number for the psychologist.