Every morning, especially, Susie's hard neck brace leaves her with shooting pains. This morning, she was in tears as she cried out, "It feels like somebody's putting a knife in my neck." I asked her if I could do some of the pressure point massages I learned the other day from Norene, Susie's occupational therapist. "Yes." So I asked her where it hurt the most. "In the left side of my neck." So I stood behind her and searched for the knotted muscle with my left thumb. When I hit pay dirt, she winced and I knew I was on the money. "Rub it out, too." So I moved my thumb slowly down the back of her neck, then back up again, and down. "The other side hurts, too," she cried, literally. So I did the same massage on her right side. Eventually the knots of muscle tissue eased off enough that Susie said she wanted to just rest it a bit, so I went back to my end of the family room table, sat down, and looked at my beautiful wife's face, as the tears flowed from her eyes, down her cheeks. Like a little girl. A grown woman. In pain. Never once complaining, just paining. Raining pain. Reigning pain. Un-reigned pain. Resigned to pain.
Tomorrow, I reminded her, as if she needs anybody to remind her of what she's probably counting the hours to, all by herself, we'll see the neurosurgeon again and then he'll have the x-ray and be able to tell you how often you take the goddamn thing off your freaking neck, I said, and get some relief. I know it's gonna be better after tomorrow. I don't really know if that's the case but I don't know it won't be, so I'm not lying to her, just trying to make her feel like there's hope the pain will subside tomorrow, once the doctor tells her, I pray, that she can take off the freaking neck brace from time-to-time.
"Time present, and time past, are both, perhaps, contained in time future." So begins one of T.S. Elliott's poems, I'm not sure which one. Is it The Four Quartets? Whatever, I hope Susie's present pain, and past pain, are not both contained in the coming days. She's ready for the final quarter of the reign of pain, the last measure of the fourth quartet, to happen. All the Oxycontin, 24/7, the Dilaudid, the Ibuprofen, don't take the pain away.
Pain present, and pain past, are both, I pray, not contained in time future.