This morning, as I have every morning for the past 10 days, I got up early. But this morning, unlike the others, instead of lying in bed with still-tired, burning eyeballs, dreading what new horror would unfold over the course of the day and mentally planning how to navigate the burning remains of the previous day's horror, I sat up warily.
For whatever reason, I had this sense that the worst had passed.
It didn't fill me with joy and happiness. It wasn't like I was sad either, it is just that when you get so used to the idea that whatever you do, or touch, is going to go wrong, and you resign yourself to facing a pack of demons you thought were buried far in your past, you just don't care anymore.
It is an apathetic kind of protective shield.
You tell yourself- hey, it's all burning up around me, you've hit me with your worst shots, and I'll still come out alive.
Bruised, tired in your very marrow, sluggish and slow with wrinkles on your face that weren't there before, falling into new habits that you never dreamed would have to form, your bedside table overflowing with the detritus of what you had no time to clean up the past week- cups of mostly drinken water, mugs with an inch of tea in the bottom, a thermometer with the lid off, books discarded after only a few pages, a bowl with the tell-tale neon yellow ring around the inside that says: chicken soup from a packet was here, mountains of used Kleenex crumpled up with snot and tears, sweaters, socks, a travel magazine, forms for government-issued passes half completed, and at the foot of the bed a heap of all the bed sheets from the bed, greasy with fever-sweats and sadness.
But alive. Not broken completely. There must be something about facing what seems to be the worst, and realizing actually how strong you are. You can give that special, bitter little laugh used by those who walked through flames and say: is that all there is? Really? That's the worst you can do, life? Ha!