Monday, March 25, 2013

No Going Back

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First draft.

When it happened I thought he was having a heart attack.

We were an hour away from Saturday date night--an evening of social and cultural outings, first a party with friends and second a late-nigh viewing of The Moth & The Flame at Velour. Chup had fetched a fresh pizza for the kids and babysitter, cut it in skinny pieces in the kitchen and was attempting to put Erin her highchair when he collapsed on the ground.

This is it! I thought to myself, the heart attack that killed his grandfather! It's rearing it's cold, death grip on the next generation!

"What is it?" I said calmly.

"My back" he blurted between gusts of breath.

"Can you move?" I asked.


This is the part where the hero in me is greatly diminished, but I started to panic wondering how I was going to get my husband help. He couldn't stay writhing on the kitchen floor. I could see he was in a great amount of pain and I could see he couldn't move without that pain paralyzing him. So I did nothing.

Except, put Erin in her high chair and sliced her a skinny piece too.

My husband has a gorgeous, long, thick body. There was no way--barring some infinite adrenalin rush--I could move him on my own. He's too much mass for my small frame. I thought about who I would call for help in transporting him to a softer (albeit sanitary) location.

Eventually, Chup rotated on to his hands and knees and crawled like a prowling tiger--gingerly and calculated--to the front room. There he landed his back on the couch.

"I am done. My back is out." He told me wincing.

"I should cancel the babysitter." I suggested.

He closed his eyes and nodded.

As he lie there holding his breath and trying to rotate away from the pain shooting up through his spine, I got the kids fed and dressed and into bed. Chup called Cory next door to come over and give him a healing blessing. I added my own blessing to his and Chup started to feel some comfort.

Eventually he wanted to make the transition into our bed upstairs, again on hands and knees he crawled through the front room, up the stairs and down the hallway into our bed. But he cried, big dropping tears of distress, the entire way.

I gathered up the Ibuprofen in the house and a quick-acting Unisom. I didn't think he would be able to sleep at all but after hours of being in heavy pain I hoped he would.

When finally we had him in a position that didn't feel like torture he turned to me and said,

"Sorry I ruined the night. You can go to Velour if you want, I am fine here."

"It's not your fault and I am not going to leave you." I replied.

But moments later, as he was sleeping heavily I had a feeling I should get out to Velour.

A feeling I denied because of all the what ifs, but a feeling that was resilient to any and all excuses. So I rolled over to Chup and told him I was going to go.

He slurred his words, but I knew he meant them,

"That's great. That makes me happy. I will call you if I need you."

Right, of course he will, I assured myself. And I don't live far away from the place and I can check the camera in the nursery from the venue and it's going to be ok.

And so I went to Velour, by myself. As I walked in from the chilly night, I was immediately warmed up by friends I've come to love, who share the same devotion to the cultural arts in downtown Provo. I felt like a pinball zig zagging through the place, happily seeing people I care about in my community.

When The Moth & The Flame started I found a little patch of ground to stand and listen. I closed my eyes and listened. I listened to the soundtrack of the last few years, the music I heard while I was pregnant with Erin and readying to give birth. The music I chose to hear late at night when everyone is sleeping and I want to be creative. It's the sound of the most romantic part of me.

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I've always told Chup I want to be more like the music I hear from The Moth & The Flame. Their music makes me want to live better, choose bigger, feel deeper. When I hear them live I resolve to be a better writer.

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I closed my eyes and saw myself in a different humanity--with colors and textures I've never experienced before. You know how music can do that to you? I had a tiny transcendental moment and I felt renewed.

The morning after I woke up feeling capable to face the day. It was Sunday the busiest day of the week. With Chup immobile it was all up to me. I helped Ever paint some colorful rainbows on Construction Paper. I sat in on a lesson from a young woman about forgiveness at church. I made a vegetable masala. I dropped a knife on my big toe and watched a chunk of flesh give way to a flow of blood. I made chocoalte chip cookies with Anson. I cleaned up Erin's random vomiting as she sat eating spiced carrots in the high chair.

By the end of the evening Chup could sort of move. The house was clean. The children went to bed without much prodding. I fell asleep listening to a phone call between my husband and his little brother--a doctor--making a general diagnosis of nerve malfunctioning.

The Spirit is what we call it. That prodding that tells you to push beyond your fears and do what is right for you. The voice that says, "Your well is empty. Fill it tonight. Fill it for tomorrow."

We're alright around here.

Thanks Brandon & Mark and co. 
Good luck in LA, 
we'll miss you around these parts: