I’m Here

It’s the middle of the night. I’ve already been asleep. Awake and aware that I need to rest, I scrolled through my Facebook feed to lull me into my next cat nap.

Long ago, I abandoned Facebook friends who engage in political online debates or post to provoke or evoke negative emotions. Most of my “friends” are dancers, actors, singers, and generally people who believe there is more to life than forceful expression of political opinions. My Facebook feed is benign, happy, friendly, and supportive.

Let’s be clear. Today (er, yesterday) was a hard day. Again. I swam for 47 minutes. I lied in a chair by the pool for 1 hour 15 minutes waiting for my leg to stop shaking so I could strap it back into its boot and go home.

What a luxury! To be able to lay myself poolside for over an hour, with no responsibilities…  It doesn’t sound so bad, right?

But, you see, the thing is that the spasms hurt. They are violent. People notice. It is humiliating. I was hungry. I just wanted to go home and make a grilled cheese sandwich.

For me, the luxury would be having the freedom to leave the pool when I was finished swimming. The luxury would be to be able to plan my day and execute that plan.

A handful of people watched me cry. Some came over to talk to me and distract me (they all know me by now, this leg has become my identity). I was thankful, but frustrated. I needed the attention, but I didn’t want it. I don’t enjoy talking about my leg, much less pretending that it (shaking, purple, painful) doesn’t exist.

In addition to the usual pain, tonight, my leg was very sore from the morning’s spasms. I dutifully took my pills, went to sleep, and was jolted awake. Cue Facebook feed.

One of my friends posted a video of Cynthia Erivo’s stage performance of I’m Here from The Color Purple. It hit home. I cried again. This time the tears came with renewed hope. I know I have to get up in the morning and keep trying.

“…I got my house,
It still keeps the cold out
I got my chair
When my body can’t hold out

Got my hands doin’ good like they supposed to
Showing my heart to the folks that I’m close to
I got my eyes though they don’t see as far now
They see more ’bout how things really are now

I’m gonna take a deep breath
I’m gonna hold my head up
I’m gonna put my shoulders back
And look you straight in the eye…

I believe I have inside of me
Everything that I need to live a bountiful life
With all the love alive in me
I’ll stand as tall as the tallest tree

And I’m thankful for every day that I’m given
Both the easy and the hard ones I’m livin’
But most of all
I’m thankful for,
Lovin’ who I really am
I’m beautiful
Yes I’m beautiful
And I’m here”

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