“Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning To Breathe…”

That is the colossus of invitations, engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty, and now that I’m feeling adrift in my infirmity (rib injury), it takes on a whole new meaning.

I’m actually shocked at the severity of the pain and the manner in which I am managing it all. Maladroit comes to mind.

Yes, it’s true, I thought the pain would significantly subside (as in a few days), my loving family would continue to serve my every need, and life would be as if a fairytale.

How did that work out you might ask?

Picture this, Cinderella’s driver decides to sprint just as the carriage turns back into a pumpkin, this results in a serious injury for Cinderella, then Prince whatshisname misplaces the glass slipper, and Cheryl Cinderella spends the rest of her days serving others instead of donning her crown and managing the staff up at the castle.

But let’s not dwell on the negative, it’s only a fairytale.

First of all, you’ll be thrilled to know you can order drugs on Amazon and they’ll deliver within 24 hours. I just ordered a mega jar of CBD lotion, yes, it’s barely legal, but it came highly recommended by a trusted friend who happens to be a psychologist, it’s not that I’m showing instability, she just doesn’t want me to suffer unnecessarily. Let me repeat, SHE DOESN’T WANT ME TO SUFFER UNNECESSARILY.

It should arrive by 10 pm tomorrow, the possibility of being pain-free is intoxicating, and I’ll be counting down the minutes, because I’m in pain, and no one seems to fully understand my pain. Is this painful to read? Good.

Rumi was totally messed up when he said the wound is the place where the light enters you, it’s where my energy drains out, and I become a blubbering idiot at least three times a day. So much for the philosophical approach to our woundedness. Yes, I made that word up.

We celebrating the 4th of July up at Lake (it’s a family tradition), in a small subdivision called Kono Tayee (means mountain point in Pomo Indian), which happens to be inundated with Oreglia’s. Currently there are 23 of us domiciled in three houses, dotting the shores of Clearlake, more are coming in a few days!

Here’s the most reliable version of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while one is severely injured and excessively checking her Amazon order status. It keeps telling me the drugs are in process? Meaning they’ve shipped but they’ve not arrived. Story of my life.

Yesterday was painful as all the days have been since the said incident but I’m not going to belabor the point, much. We spent most of the day floating in the languid waters of Clearlake, staying cool, and hydrating with a variety of spirited beverages. This is very important as it’s hot as hell and the body is perpetually sweating. At one point I counted 18 bodies gathered on our beach in various stages of relaxation.

There are always meals to prepare, small autarches to feed, things to tidy up, and people to accommodate. The days blend into each other one unidentifiable from the next.

I decided to google best practices for healing a rib. IT SAID TO REST. It’s unfortunate the only cure is REST but what can you do?

Drugs are still in process, thanks for asking.

Speaking of resting, we’re all waiting patiently for Nic to unwrap his extraordinary pastrami that’s been resting for hours, after a killer rub, and 12-hour smoke. He’s been brining it for two weeks in his refrigerator. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Finally, it’s ready and Nic lays out this extraordinary specimen of brined, rubbed, smoked, and rested flesh, he slices it in front of my nose, then slathers a healthy portion on toasted rye bread, mixed with homemade coleslaw, I have no words.

Did someone say time heals all wounds? Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy called bullshit on that little adage. She said in time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers it with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But the wound is never gone. NEVER! That’s what I figured.

In the meantime our neighbor Jim has a little problem he needs help with, his boat is stuck in the lift, and the lake is so low he can’t lower the dock enough to launch the boat. So the question becomes how and who? The answer is a boat, a rope, some local muscle, Jim and Larry (college roommates who now own side by side lake houses).

What could go wrong?

I’m observing from a distance because I’m already injured and my drugs are in process.

What I see is Larry’s boat connected to Jim’s boat by a ski rope. Perfect. Chris and Nic (the son-in-laws) are stationed on the dock, their job is to push the boat in the water, simple enough. Jim is in the boat moving about with no identifiable purpose. As we all know Larry is well-practiced at gunning the boat, so on Jim’s word, “hit it” Larry accelerates. I hold my rib and have 911 pre-dialed into my phone.

I see the dock bend and groan as the wedged boat refuses to move. For a second I thought the entire dock was going down and I’d have to dive in the water and rescue someone with my broken rib. Really? But no, Larry and Jim refuse to give up, Chris and Nic continue to strain against the wedged boat. Jim is now using his entire body weight to rock the obstinate vessel.

I hope someone is filming this?

There’s a lot of testosterone, taunt muscles, rocking, engine revving action before the little boat pops off of the lift and into the water. As Robert Jordan claims there is one rule, above all others, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet. Well just about everyone sprung to their feet cheering, whistling, and back-slapping before we return to our floating and hydrating.

Tonight we enjoyed an early dinner, which is unusual at the lake, normally if we finish dinner before 10 pm we consider it an accomplishment, and I’ll admit my daughters did all the dishes while I sat there licking my plate.

After dinner, we sashay over to the neighbors through the GO (Goudreau/Oreglia) gate, a passageway we created for our convenience, and it has become the Route 66 between our houses. The Goudreau’s also have a full house, it’s the way we like it, and besides you can always find someone to chat with or complain about your woundedness.

Lounging on their new patio set, we sip wine, and humorously review the events of the day which takes a while because there’s so much material.

Now keep in mind our houses are right next to each other, our patios are practically connected, except for a row of privacy bushes, and a small fence. So when Julie and Nic finally get all the kids down, they grab a beverage, and join us. All is pleasant and calm until the screaming starts.

“Mom, Dad, you can not leave us alone in the house, it’s against the law,” Audrey is bellowing as she rounds the corner, holding Sienna by the hand, who is wailing as if she has a rib injury.

The two of them are scolding us something fierce, claiming they could have been kidnapped, or worse? Julie and Nic race over to negotiate a plea bargain. Apparently, Cora decided to nibble on Sienna’s ear, there was a dispute over baby dolls, and it went downhill from there.

Most mornings Audrey and I lounge in my bed and watch icarly reruns from 6:00 am to waffle time around 9:00 am. I’m enamored with this old Nickelodeon show, it’s indefensible, but exceedingly therapeutic because there is always a happy ending no matter what happens. I like that.

Tonight is our highly anticipated seafood boil! Jim and Nic have been collaborating for weeks on the ingredients. It includes lobster, shrimp, clams, sausage, corn, asparagus, entire cloves of garlic, onions, oranges, mushrooms, butter, and spicy seasonings. We have this huge pot and burner which we set up on the beach and then we cover two picnic tables with butcher paper and pour the ingredients onto the table. Add a couple of baskets of garlic bread and we sit down to eat with our hands. It’s primitive, not for mannerly types, the messier your hands and face the better.

After dinner, we gather around the fire pit, and shoot the shit as people peel off to bed. Day is done.

Oh, my drugs? They’re still in process.

Today is the fourth of July! It starts off with a fire alarm going off at 5:00 am, battery issue, after Larry removes the culprit from Kelley’s room, we lay our weary heads on the pillow, and the grandchildren start arriving one by one. Cora and Sienna can’t stop saying, “happy birdday America,” (th is tricky when you’re 4) and we all snuggle in our bed while I desperately try to protect my bad rib. Larry slips out to make coffee.

Bless him.

By 10:00 am the entire family is decked out in red, white, and blue, waving American flags curbside as we await the parade of decorated golf carts, bicycles, and scooters. Yeah, it’s that kind of place, hookey but fun. My sister-in-law Rachel hands out Bloody Mary’s on a rolling cart to all the participants and neighbors as we cheer on the procession.

“Freedom is the atmosphere in which humanity thrives. Breathe it in.” Richelle E. Goodrich

Just as the parade ends, Dante drives up the street, and the entire block cheers the late arrival. This is his favorite holiday and I’m so glad he was able to make it. He goes about setting up the music system off the back deck, the cousins (I think 8 of the twelve are here this year) gather round, and spend the day doing what young people do? I have absolutely no idea, you’ll have to use your imagination.

By some act of the divine, the drugs finally arrived! Thank God because after the parade, kitchen clean up, food shopping, and Dante’s arrival, I start to lose it. I can’t stop crying, my ribs are throbbing, I can’t breathe, and the family is not sure what to do with me. Julie directs me to bed, Kelley slaps on some CBD lotion, and they demand I wash down two extra-strength Tylenol, as Larry walks around the house claiming, “there’s nothing you can do for a rib injury.”

Guess what? The CBD lotion is cool and refreshing but the pain does not magically disappear. I slept for three hours, and by the way, I NEVER nap.

I’m a wee bit drowsy when I wake up, walking into the family room I feel as if I’m in the twilight zone, the first person I see sleeping on the couch is Tim! Kelley’s husband was able to slip in a quick trip to the west coast from Boston and surprised us all. He took a redeye, so he’s been up all night, and he’s catching a few winks before dinner. I’m so happy to have almost all of my children with me. Makes me miss Tony all the more.

Additional guests arrive at the main house, aunts, uncles, cousins, came to spend the day with family. Larry and I mosey over to say hello, and a group of us end up gathered in the shade on the beach, enjoying the familiarity of extended family. It’s been years since we’ve all been together.

For Dante’s only meal with us he requested hamburgers and we are happy to oblige. At around 5:00 Jim shows up with coffee martini’s (his specialty) and we gather with the Goudreau’s for cocktails. Everyone has a job, Larry made the patties, Julie is feeding the exhausted, sun-kissed children, Nic is grilling, Tim is being interviewed on some radio station (seriously, he’s a celebrity), Kelley is toasting the buns, Dante is providing the music, and I’m resting.

This firework display is hosted every year by the Lakeport City Council so at dusk all the families load up their boats and head over to the main lake to watch the show. I stayed behind this year. The ribs couldn’t take a rough boat ride, but I took advantage of the quiet, went to bed with my icepack, and barely legal drugs!

Laying in my bed, alone in the dark, I wonder about the deeper meaning of pain? Yeah, that’s where my mind goes when I’m left to my own devices. Oprah says turn your wounds into wisdom. Maybe pain is meant to wake us up because I certainly can’t sleep. We’re taught to hide our pain, but that’s not feasible when it’s all-consuming, and honestly, I feel weak in its exhaustive presence.

We’re forced to carry our pain, I suppose the more severe the wound, the heavier the burden. Pain is part of everyone’s reality, no one gets a hall pass, and how we manage our pain is fairly indicative of how we manage our life. I can try to ignore it, ice it, slather it with CBD lotion, but it’s still there, demanding time, patience, and rest. In my experience the only thing that can heal pain is love, self-love if need be.

In the endless quiet, I hear the boats returning to our dock, and that timeless invitation rattles through my brain, “The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Happy Birdday, America!

I’m Living in the Gap, on the mend, join me in the comments.

Anecdotes:

  • “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis
  • “Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.” Neil Gaiman
  • “But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.” Margaret Atwood

Aside:

  • Posthumously famous for her sonnet, “The New Colossus,” which is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus is considered America’s first important Jewish poet.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

26 Comments

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    1. Thank you Kim, I’m finding out that I’m quite the whimp when it comes to chronic pain and I’m not managing it well. This is one thing Larry can’t fix and I know he’s quite distraught although hiding it well. I appreciate the virtual smacks, put a big old smile on my face! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  1. i hope you have mended. I’m sorry to hear you are in so much pain. CBD oil can help with inflammation, but it won’t get rid of all your pain. I use it on my joints for arthritis. It helps some.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the empathetic comment Molly! Maybe I should try the oil? I bought the lotion. Interesting you mention arthritis, I have it in my hands, and they’ve been feeling better, now I know why! Sending you kindness and love, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You took me there, as you always do, Cheryl.
    I wanted to be eating that concoction with my hands, snaffling extra garlic bread when nobody was looking. Then doggy-bagging some of that pastrami to enjoy back in Beetley.
    By the way, Larry is right. No cure for a broken rib. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pete, sorry for such a delayed response, I took a break, the pain was overwhelming. I’m finally feeling better and hope to get back to writing. It feels as if a part of me is missing when I don’t write. Thanks for joining me in our 4th of July celebrations, it was a tasty weekend. I see you’ve started a new series and I’m looking forward to catching up this week! Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great writing as always neighbor, and fantastic picture of you two with the grandbabies! Soo Sorry for your struggles. Sadly, I know that ‘time’, and staying as ‘immobile as possible’ is the only path to your healing. Am of course continuing to pray for your healing daily.

    Loved the C.S. Lewis quote, but then I “Love” C.S. Lewis Emoji The entire Emma Lazarus poem was a very nice touch as well – your keen research adds such a lovely richness to everything as well – Bravo!

    And, (wince), I struggled to decide if I would include this last bit. . .
    I have always loved the song and still do. And, I absolutely love-love-love your artistically magical and seamless pairings of music to the emotion of the blog. What makes me sad is that today Mr. Springsteen has gotten so, well, “unpatriotic”, and ungrateful of his “American” experience. . . .
    Blessed to be raised “Catholic” in a country guaranteeing free speech, free choice, expression and practice of religion and. . . considering his Catholic upbringing that led him to pen what I think to be some of the most iconic lyrics ever written in Rock & Roll to explain greed and its downfall to society. From the song Badlands: “Poor man wanna be rich. Rich man wanna be king. And a king ain’t satisfied ’til he rules everything”. Clearly, he demonstrates an understanding of this concept well enough to be able to spell it out in simple verse how we are deceived in our lives to chase mammon rather than virtue, and then Today? well, “today” (or at least for the ‘moment’) he is openly anti-Catholic and pro-abortion. And considering his net worth of ~3/4’s of a billion $$$? He is oddly supportive of Marxist ideals, where, were he to have lived under a Marxist political structure? He could have never achieved the freedom or control of his talents to achieve what he did while under a Democratic Republic system, showing himself to be hypocritically anti-American. Very Sad. . . But, free will, right? God lets us make choices. Btw, I’m praying for Mr. Springsteen as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations, they’re always welcome and appreciated. Sorry for the delayed response, I had to take a break. This rib thing took me down big time and I’m finally feeling a little better. I’m not sure if I’m the biggest whimp ever? But damn, the pain was unexpected. I think it’s interesting how our current experiences shape our future self and I try to be cognizant of potential influences but change is inescapable for all of us. Thank you for the healing prayers, much appreciated, C

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  4. I’m late to the party here and hoping you’re with even a small bit of relief by now, Cheryl. The sublingual CBD oil might be a nice addition if your rib is still throbbing. It’s a window to the world of folks with chronic pain for sure–I’m so glad for you that in all likelihood your pain will one day be no more and I respect your inclination to mine it for whatever it may have to offer you now. Have you ever read anything by Rachel Naomi Remen? She’s written so lovingly about her own chronic medical condition and the wisdom she’s garnered from it. Here’s her conversation with your girlfriend and mine, Krista Tippett. Take care, my friend. And can I say that I never nap either but I feel the strong need for one whenever I read about the Oreglia weekend hyjinx! How do you fine folks do it?? There’s a mighty pool of energy in your kinfolk that I think our planet needs to figure out how to tap…right up there with wind and solar power!!:
    https://onbeing.org/programs/rachel-naomi-remen-the-difference-between-fixing-and-healing-nov2018/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mary Ellen, I’m just coming up from an extended break, I had to retreat while family has been in town and I’m barely functioning! Just starting to turn the corner on all this pain! Crazy. I’m looking forward to listening to this conversation with our BFF Krista, thank you for sharing the link. I’ve missed you and our fellow Geckos, hoping to join our next call, my week isn’t the same without you all. I’ve been thinking of you and all that you’re dealing with right now, holding you in prayer my friend, hugs, C

      Like

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