How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, "I have prevailed"; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalm 13, NRSV)
Here's what I like.
I like a story with a happy ending.
I like knowing the right people ended up together.
I like justice.
I like good things happening to good people.
I like the idea that it all works out in the end.
I know life is not like that, yet I love the psalms that work things through, as if it were. It tells me that people have been trying, basically forever, to figure out a way to get God to meet them in their pain, trying to work superstitiously though the process that will get them the result they want: their healing, their relief, their release from captivity, their vengeance over their foes.
It's what we all want, isn't it?
This morning I will take Dose Two of the heavy duty medicine, methotrexate, the first full-sized dose, since they start you on less than half. I will take it and hope that I am one of the people who doesn't suffer the various possible side effects (nausea, mouth sores, thinning hair), that the warnings are just there because it could happen, but not because it must happen. And even if the side effects occur, I'll try to work things through in my mind, telling myself it's better than pain, better than incapacity, better than deformities down the road.
I must confess I am afraid. And my answer to anxiety and fear is, as it has always been, to try and master the material of my life, to know exactly where and when and how much, to research and uncover and try to make the connections, to be a girl detective and try to understand how it all hangs together.
Also today I will go to the hospital for pulmonary function tests, because one of the things RA can mess with is your lungs, and I have shortness of breath that is not related to anything else they can find.
I don't expect a magic cure for all this, if I say the right prayer with adequate sincerity. I don't believe that ritual prayers will make this all go away.
But oddly, I find myself thinking, as I cross the street or wash the dishes or look at my daughter, as I wrap my arms around my husband's waist because reaching up hurts my shoulders, as I take the doggoned Vicodin that I wish I didn't need at bedtime, or as I pet the cats and dogs, I find myself thinking, I'm glad to be alive. I'm glad to be alive.
And when I consider that in my 30s I didn't feel that way, when I consider that I never imagined I could be happy again and worried that my lengthy recovery from a severe and suicidal postpartum depression might be ruining my children's lives, when I thought I would never love or be loved, never do work that had meaning, and then I look at where I am today, I am so glad to be alive, so grateful for everything I have, even if my darned toe joints hurt.