Saturday, January 19, 2013

Phantom limb pain.

"I'm not right," he told me.

That was his response when I asked him why he wasn't taking his medicines and doing the things he was supposed to do to be well.  This was his fourth hospitalization in the last twelve months. I wanted to know why he was being mean to his body by completely refusing to chasten it.

"I'm not right."

"What do you mean by 'not right?'"  I wanted to know.

"Since I lost my boy, I ain't been right. It's almost been ten years, I know. But still, my heart feels so sad that sometime it's hard to do anything."

Oooph. That socked me in the chest. I didn't know what to say.

"I know, Miss Manning. I got to do better and I will. I just be feeling like what's the point sometimes."

"You mean like you don't want to live?"

"Naww. Never that. It's just real hard to be all the way happy that's all. Then you wonder what's the point in doing all this stuff when you can't be happy anyway?"

"What happened? To your son, I mean?"

"Shot. Somebody shot him dead. Not even thirty years old neither."

I looked down in deference. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah. Me, too."

The room fell silent.

"He looked-ed just like me. Just, just like me." He stared out of the window and shook his head. "Just like me."

I imagined him sitting beside us, the spitting image of his father. I kept my mouth shut and simply watched and listened.

"It's like getting your leg or your arm amputated, you know? Losing a child. Like, you figure out how to walk and maybe even run, but it ain't never the same. You always walk with a limp.You learn how to laugh and if you really work at it, you can blend in like you ain't even lost your leg, you know?"

"But you did," I replied. "You did lose it."

"Damn right you did. Minute you wake up in the morning, first thing you reminded of is that you did."

I nodded.

"Sometime it just ache so. It ache in a way can't nobody fix."

"Phantom limb pain," I murmured.

"What's that?"

"Pain where the leg once was. That's hard to touch or describe but it's there."

"It don't go away. Not all the way it don't."

This was heavy. And he'd caught me off guard with all of this. I wasn't prepared to have such a discussion. Not today. Not now. But now I was inside. He'd opened this door and let me in whether I wanted to or not.

"What was your son's name?"

He smiled and pointed his thumb at his chest. "He was named for me."

I smiled in acknowledgement.

"You know what? Sometime. . . losing my boy make me sometimes feel like I lost my all my fight right along with him."

I stared at the floor and blinked hard so I wouldn't cry. My heart was pounding hard because I was hoping with all my might that my mama and my daddy aren't feeling that exact same thing today or ten years from now.

Losing their fight right along with Deanna.

That's when it just came out. "I just lost my sister. In November. One day here and gone the next."

He looked up at me and held my gaze.

"The hardest part is watching my mama and my daddy. It's different for the parents. They know how you feel."

"Damn. I'm sorry that anybody got to know how this feel."  His eyes were welling up with tears now. And he wasn't fighting them. "It is different for the daddy and the mama."

I reached for a box of tissues and handed it to him. I didn't bother saying anything else because there weren't any good words to allay the pain of what he described. Not a single word.

That silence and that Kleenex opened the floodgates. He dropped his head into his hands and wept. Wept like all of this had just happened ten days ago instead of ten years ago. And it all made sense to me. Now more than ever.

"Miss Manning? Pray for me, hear?"

I placed my hand on top of his and clasped his fingers."I will. I promise."

So tonight I did just that. Prayed for him. Prayed for them, the ones that know what he knows. I prayed for them all. For something to ease the phantom limb pain. And for something, anything to help them to keep their fight.

Welcome to the weekend.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .


  1. Beautiful. Saying a prayer for him and your mama and daddy and you too, so that you can keep doing what you do.

  2. Phantom limb pain.
    I imagine that is how it is. I grieve for all the parents who know exactly how that feels.

  3. Praying for your patient and your family too. I know how it feels and it's the worst pain I've ever felt in my life - yes - even years later. My heart hurts just thinking about all of the pain in this world. Thankfully, there's also joy in there sometimes.

  4. As a former psychotherapist and current seminarian, I have always believed that the people God puts in my life are to heal me and not the other way around. God put some healing into your life today, Dr. M.

  5. Wooooo chile. I am completely in tears right now. I walked into chapter mtg Sat and did my usual scan around the room to sit by Deanna. Then it hit me...this is my new normal. My heart got so heavy it was almost too much . Then Soror Curry. Now reading this.

    Only One Doctor can alleviate this kind of pain. We have to stay in constant prayer for one another. -Renee

  6. From the deck of the Poop
    I miss Deanna everyday and I have my hard ugly cries sometimes but my day to day life is going on. I don't get that paralyzed feeling. I'm motivated by the expectations Plinko would have of her Poppo. I have a card that she sent me several years ago and it sums up what Deanna would expect of her dad. She would say " miss me Poppo, but move on and do what you do......



"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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