Ann Keiffer

A Most Fortunate Woman

It’s strange.
When I write about
or dip down into
my everyday experience
of the limitations
of my illness…
when I talk about
how bad it can
sometimes get…
it can feel
like I’m lying.
Because, really, I am a
most fortunate woman.

With some years
of experience,
I know I have
to say yes,
to daily rests…
but I also see
there are few places
I need to be,
no job to go to,
few appointments
or promises
on my calendar,
so a nap is usually
there for the taking.
There’s a soft bed
layered with a
comfy spread
the color of
my delight,
and a spacious view
to sky, mountain,
birds and trees.
There’s a kitty, too,
who comes
when I call him,
and lays down
beside me,
wrapping
his leg and paw
over my arm
like he owns me,
which he does.

Truly,
I am
a most fortunate woman.

Yes, there can be
trials of pain,
but it is intermittent,
just nagging, aching,
not unbearable
or overwhelming
if I don’t overdo…
and if I do,
I’ve learned to use
the good vibrations
of a massage-gun,
a gift from my son,
on my hurting legs,
distracting my muscles
—or is it my brain?—
from the pain,
providing some time off
before the pain does
or does not
come back again.
And at night
there’s a small dose
of a dated and sedating
antidepressant,
not enough
to treat a depression,
but enough to bestow
the antidepressant’s
blessed side-effect
of easing nerve pain.

Clearly, I am
a most fortunate woman.

Energy crashes,
if I do not escape them,
can take me down
to a place so low
I can hardly function—
when doing laundry
or cooking a meal
or even long-talking
can take more energy
than I have in me
and aching pain
is constant.
But mostly now,
if I am obedient
and live as
circumscribed
and slowly as
I know I must,
I can prevent
the crashes.
And even if I crash
I know my beloved
somehow still
and always loves me
as raggedy as I am,
pitching in to do
what I cannot
and he can.
He fully trusts
me to emerge
on the other side,
and I do,
which is easier
when you can
lean into such
rare and beautiful,
unconditional love.

Yes, I am
a most fortunate woman.

I also feel
purely 100% lucky
that my basic desires,
my talents and gifts
perfectly fit the form
my life has taken.
My passions
have never been
round-the-world travel,
mountain-climbing,
boards and committees
or running marathons.
If that were true
I would starve
on a steady diet
of crushed dreams.
Instead, my gifts,
my passions,
fit my life like
a silk chemise.
I can read widely,
write and create
from my chair
My senses are thrilled
by a quiet walk.
I swoon on
the natural beauty
of where I live.
And how lovely
that I love a movie
sitting hip-to-hip
with my husband
of an evening
on the couch—
just being together,
a riveting plot,
and a chocolate truffle
all the thrill I need.

What a fortunate woman!

And one day
while ranging out
in curious reading,
intuition effervescing,
I came upon discussions
of an experimental,
could-this-be-magic?
medicine it seemed
might be worth trying
on micro protocol.
So as I am wont to do,
I did,
and blundered into wonder…
as I later discovered
that these tiny doses,
as part of interacting
with brain and body
in whatever mysterious
ways they do,
give the body’s
powerhouses—
the mitochondria—
a little boost
so more energy flows.
No power surges
to be sure,
but just enough
to make a difference.
So if I rest enough,
and stay slow enough
I can live a fuller life.
Though not every day
or all on one day…
I can do some extra
ordinary thing—
go to the grocery,
meet a friend
for a chai latte,
or maybe if I’m feeling
my absolute tip-top best,
plan one rested-up,
easy-menu dinner,
gather in my people
for an evening
of shared food
and conversation,
then leave the dishes
for tomorrow
and go to bed.

For me,
a most fortunate woman,
it’s not that life
always comes on easy.
It’s about finding ways
to say yes to my life
as it comes,
stay in the saddle
and ride my horse
in the direction it’s going.
It’s not that this
slow, small, quiet life
is the one I would wish for…
but then again, maybe it is.

Ann Keiffer
April, 2024

Image: Pinterest, photo editing by Ann Keiffer

About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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