“Big and Floppy. I’m not going to tell you again.”
It’s not like I’m in a position to argue. She’s hovering above me, gently humming torture device dangling in one hand, and if I didn’t like her so much I’d consider telling here where to put it. Big and floppy, indeed.
I am not sure what has caused me more physical angst in recent years. Grief? Age? Probably equal measures of both. And they’ve enjoyed their little WWF tag-team routine far too thoroughly, which is why this little cocoon of rejuvenation bears a striking similarity to the dungeon under the control of Snow White’s wicked crone of a stepmother. Lights are dimmed, machines steam like cauldrons bubbling and soothing music that feels less Zen and more Edgar Allan Poe plays as she towers above me and rubs her hands gleefully.
I am a little concerned that she enjoys this so much, but I am not about to argue with a woman who has gone to bat for me against hormones and grief.
When he died, we were overwhelmed with kindnesses – deliveries of food and trips to the park, bills paid and laundry washed. Donations squirreled away for an education we dreamed our children would have. Pictures sorted for the funeral and a house decorated for a cold and lonely Christmas. Toys for them and memorial bike rides for him. And tucked within the hundreds of cards, filled with the notes and names of people that had touched our lives, a gift for me. A simple gift I would not have given myself but that someone, somehow, knew I needed.
I barely spoke that first time, listening only to the whirring of the machines in a desperate attempt to calm the raw nerve endings that flinched at the slightest touch as she worked quietly on the epidermal layer protecting the weeping landscape beneath. In the mirror I saw a woman aged by sadness. She saw a woman still young but simply buried underneath the ashen skin. In the beginning, we endured each other in silence. But as time went on the skin she dedicated herself to restoring and the shattered soul it encased grew pliant and more willing. Silence faded into laughter as a new life emerged from beneath the layers.
Laughing, I know that her admonishments about sun spots damaging her canvas are proof that we’re living in each moment. Peeling back the layers is no longer painful and I trust her to know how much I can withstand, even if she does get a little too excited about something “that feels like bugs eating your face.”
Watching her hand dance above me I wonder how tight her grip is. Because if that peel takes my nose with it …