The excuse struck me forcefully as I continue to learn how to live with chronic back pain. At least 45 minutes out of every hour, I, too, am tight-lipped and barely able to answer or respond to my children or husband. And I can read the same excuse in their eyes, "It's not her, it's her back talking."
And then I start to wonder: Is this going to be the story of the rest of my days? If, for some reason or another, this pain becomes a life-long companion, will I somehow disappear into it so that everyone I meet thinks, "It's not her, it's her pain"?
I know of--and have met--men and women suffering constant pain who radiate something else. In a way, they have disappeared into their pain but emerged free. Even as their bodies ache, their words and thoughtfulness move in almost a different sphere.
I have had moments of this. I find my laughter with my children more genuine than before, when I was comfortable. I find my husband's heroic virtue more knightly than when I was too self-sufficient to notice.
But I hope to bring those moments into every moment of the day--those long stretches of time when I can't manage a smile or when the thought of making dinner or reading a book sends me into the glumliness. Slowly, I want my heart to stretch so that all my burdens are truly light.