Friday, June 8, 2012

Gilt and Honey and Sweat

Katy spoke on Monday about the books that are a slow read. I can imagine our beloved Katy curled up in some bohemian-looking corner lovingly turning the pages of a leather-bound book with gilt edges, rolling words around in her mind, caressing them with a fingertip, trying phrases out on her tongue.

Patti spoke of books that are good company. Patti is alpine breezes and fresh-scrubbed honesty. She would want books--indeed, she writes books-- that are strong and sweet, like dark honey with flecks of habanero in it.

Can I be Patti-honest here? I can’t bear to read right now. I finished a literately-written nonfiction May 1 and haven’t written much of anything since. Just lists and medical notes. My life changed so overtly on December 1 when my husband lost consciousness, not to return to us with his mind functioning correctly until the end of April, and coming back to our home in an electric wheelchair after five months, one week and one day, that reading is a luxury I don’t have. My Kindle sits by my bedside but I don’t turn it on. I lived without the Internet for over a week and hardly noticed. We moved last weekend and I haven’t unpacked a single book except those in the boxes with other stuff I needed to get to.

I live with sweat (my own—I know that’s not very lovely but it’s real) and the constant cool squirt of adrenaline in my gut anticipating the possible accident with lifts and ramps and gravity; and with pharmaceuticals in hourly boxes. Taking care of a quadriplegic is hard work, for me and for the professionals who come to our home to help me.  (Just two days ago I leaned panting over the hospital bed and met the eyes of the health care aide who had helped me with a harrowing transfer from wheelchair to sling to shower chair. She was panting too, and she's forty years younger than I. We looked at each other and we understood, we understood.)

Now, I don’t want sympathy, I’m just reporting in.

There have been times in my life when I have suffered with my own much-lesser health conditions, the kind that robbed me of sleep. I remember praying during those times, thanking God for the fellowship of pain, the heritage that is passed through our genes, the common denominator if you live long enough. People have suffered from the beginning of time. If hurting has no other immediate purpose, it can give us a connection with other sufferers.

I am praying that same prayer now. I could not possibly be the only lover of written words who can hardly bear their intimacy, at least for a season. I have no time nor patience for the slow read (a book would surely take me years to finish) nor the companionship of other worlds. Mine is too real.

I am not complaining because my church, friends and family have sacrificed enormously, time and money and resources, to keep me alive and functioning so I can keep someone else alive and functioning. I have been pampered in a maelstrom.

But I serve an economical God. Nothing He owns does He waste. Surely He will maximize this numbness, give this author the ability to create the thoughtful words that will speak to others like me. 

When they get ready to read again.


Diane Stortz said...

Latayne, I have been thinking about you and wondering how you and Dan are doing and appreciate this update. Which is so beautifully written, I have no doubt you will return to writing--and reading--on some future day.

My challenges are much smaller than yours, but challenges still, and I often remember the example of your commitment to live in the moment, trusting God for that moment and for all future ones. Sometimes this is indeed all the "companionship of other worlds" we can manage--and all we need just then.

S. F. Foxfire said...


I know exactly how you feel. I mean, not about what it's like to deal with a quadriplegic husband ( :( ), but I take care of my grandmother when my mother is at work, and last year I lost three family members within weeks or months of each other. Just now have I begun to really read again.

The effort of living coats you with a numbness toward books--I can't tell why, but that's what seems to happen. It might be a defensive measure. The world is so chaotic and hectic at the moment--even if that world is internal--that opening up someone ELSE'S life is nothing but a chore. How could this person understand? Oh . . . it's a novel. Right.

Or, at least, that's how I looked at it.

I'll be praying peace over your household!

Patti Hill said...

Latayne, my dear friend, this is the most beautiful and heartbreaking "list" I've ever read. Wane smile.

During my own season of pain, I couldn't read more than a few sentences at a time. Someone gave me an Emilie Barnes devotional, who must have understood the importance of brevity when the mind is racing to find the door out of pain. I loaned that little book and can't remember the title or anything said inside, just that I was offered what I needed: tiny bites of hope.

What do we do with pain that can't be soothed, medicated away, or doesn't carry the hope of new life at its end? Papa God will redeem it, I know that. His faithfulness is relentless on that count.

I love you, dearly. Yearning to crawl into His lap with you, if only for a moment.

Latayne C Scott said...

Diane, you have been a great source of encouragement to me through all of this, and I treasure your support.

S. F., I can see that you have walked in my shoes. Bless you for the fellowship.

Patti, I love you dearly and yearn to see your lovely face.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Think of it as a dam holding back a mighty torrent, storing up a weighty treasure and resource. Look forward to but don't hurry toward the day it is released. I am with you in prayer and grateful for the people who can answer them for me with time, money and resources.

Anonymous said...

Latayne, we love you from the depths of our hearts and souls. We pray for you and Dan and all you're going through, and I know God will meet every need. Patti put it so beautifully: His faithfulness is relentless. Relentless. And so is our love and care for you.

Bonnie Grove said...

The hardest thing about commenting on this article is staying on topic. What I want to do is lavish you with words about courage and bravery (as Hemingway facing down that charging lion), and of love and friendship, and long sighing wishes that I could be of real use to you.

I will try very hard to stay on topic.

How'm I doing so far?

Here's the line that speaks so well to where I have been, to where I live even now: "We looked at each other and we understood, we understood."

This is a rare jewel in life, finding and clamping eyes with that person who truly, deeply, madly, gets it. Knows it because they too live out the reality everyone else turns their faces from. The person who has looked deep into the same bottomless well as you stare into.

I've encountered that moment far too infrequently. I've had long seasons where I searched the eyes of everyone passing by, praying to see such a look.

And I guess, in smaller yet just as desperate ways, I'm still walking the streets of my life scanning the faces passing by, hoping to see that glimmer of "we understood."

I profoundly desire more and more of these moments for you, Latayne.

And when you're ready to read and write again, you will set ablaze the minds of all who touch your words.

April Muegge said...


I can relate to your unexpected loss of the desire to read. On Jan. 4, 2010, I was told there was "a high probability" of cancer and with that, I lost all interest in reading. Even though I went on to spend many hours lying in bed recovering from surgery and chemo - my desire to read had completely disappeared.

2010 marched on with cancer treatments and I was recovering well into 2011 - and still no reading. This felt very strange because I have always been a reader - generally with several books going at a time. I have a house filled with books which I now just look at from a distance.

Here it is a year later - and I am still not being drawn toward books. But on the other hand, over the past two years I have been drawn toward music and playing piano. However, I have finally managed to push myself to pick up a book and am reading it every few days, a little bit at a time. That book is "Latter-Day Cipher." :-)

You have a lifetime of reading and words which will help to sustain you through this rotten season in life and eventually this love will bloom again.

Samantha Bennett said...

Latayne, I cannot thank you enough for writing this post. Your words struck so many chords for me. Oh my, I will be re-reading this one a few times.

Cherry Odelberg said...

"I could not possibly be the only lover of written words who can hardly bear their intimacy, at least for a season"
Yes, I have been there. In my other life, I am a musician, music is my life and sustains my life; as does writing yours. Yet, much of the time these last few years, I can hardly bear the intimacy of music.

What a way you have with words. Soon. Soon, may their intimacy begin to heal you again.

Nicole said...

Jesus, Jesus. Mercy, Jesus. Help. Supernatural help, God.

Kathleen Popa said...

Latayne, dear friend - no one reads on the operating table, do they? I believe there must, MUST be something very delicate and important going on right now, and your part, it seems, is to live through it, one moment at a time.

I'm thinking of 1 John 3:2: My dear friends, we are now God's children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is.

You're right: life happens in seasons, and I pray that this one will be mercifully short.

You are very dear to me, and I am hurting for you.

April, and all others who understand too well what Latayne has said, I am praying for you, as well.

I'd love to have you all over to my bohemian corner to read over my leather bound book - if I had them. I do send my virtual hugs, and my love.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Sending love, Latayne. Much love and hugs.

Barbara's blog said...

I've been there and understand. Your mind needs rest in this real world you're living in now.

Marcia said...

Dear LaTayne,

As always I'm a day late in getting to my e-mail.

I often seem to have to run to catch up with life, since-- among other things--I'm caring for my own dear invalid of a husband. (Traumatic brain injury, 2002.)

I know it means much to your husband and to the Lord that your hubby is being taken care of at home instead of in an institution. Blessings on you for willingly shouldering the burden.

In my own experience, the first 6 months of caring for Paul at home were the hardest. But take heart, because you'll learn tricks. You'll get better equipment. You'll establish a routine and know what to expect. You'll relax more and realize that ramps and lifts and wheelchairs won't break or fall.

Do you have a lift? If not, you DEFINITELY need to get one! I couldn't take care of Paul until we did, and that has made all the difference. There are scads of helpful devices available.

All that said, life still can be difficult. I've had two cases of atrial fibrillation lately, ending up in the E.R. at unexpected times with heart rates of 167 and 195. They gave me meds, calmed my silly heart down, did tests. They don't know and I don't know what's wrong, but today my chest hurts. (Money's a bit tight right now, so I declined the test that cost $850 up front.)

*sigh* I've always looked 10 years younger than my age and been conscious of eating a healthy diet. This wasn't supposed to happen.

When I was talking to the Lord this morning in my journal, He lovingly posed this question: "If you never had major problems, how could you develop major faith?"

Looking back, I realize I've always been closest to Him when I've been suffering or struggling the most. That's the silken lining in the crude, splinter-covered box.

May the strong arms of Jesus hold you fast, dear sister. He carries us when we stumble. Soon we and our disabled loved ones will be given strong new bodies which will last forever. Count on it.

In the meantime, contact me if you think I can be of any help or support to you.

Love in Jesus,

Marcia Koelln

Latayne C Scott said...

Henrietta, I do feel that "dammed up" feeling a lot. Just today I've returned to my computer to do more than just keep commitments and answer urgent things. But now that I have my house somewhat straight and my office workable, I can get back to some things.

Sharon, I love you dearly. And am banking on that "relentless" quality of God's love.

Bonnie, funny thing about that aide who "understood." She's been going to church with us. I think she's really being touched by God. She is covered with tattoos but everyone welcomes her. I'm hoping she comes to "understand" more than just our commonality of moving my husband around.

Latayne C Scott said...

April and Cherry, how surprised I was to learn that musicians are similarly affected as authors. I had no idea. To me, music is so separate from literary things (maybe because I can't write with music on), that I had no idea a musician could have the same result from trauma. Thank you both so much for sharing that.

Latayne C Scott said...

Samantha, Nicole and Susie -- I so appreciate your kindnesses. It means much to me.

Latayne C Scott said...

Katie, you are my role model for reckless and unfettered love. I think of you dancing in the desert, I think of you in terms of the rich colors on the cover of The Feast of Saint Bertie. You're the exotic one of us, and if you don't have a leatherbound book, then your very reading of it gives it honorary leatherbound status. Mwah.

Latayne C Scott said...

Barbara and Marsha, thank you for the fellowship. You "understand."

Marcia, I pray your health holds up and you are completely well. I imagine that you know more about lifts and ramps and things than I do. God has blessed us with a house with a track system in the ceiling with a motorized lift (and a hoyer lift as backup) that makes life easier. But since my husband cannot use his hands nor bear any weight yet on his legs and feet, it is challenging in that aspect.

I am grateful for this season. I thought the hospitalization and uncertainty of life and death issues were hard, but this is a different kind of hard. God will sustain us all. Of that I am certain.