I’m sitting at my laptop. The words drip from my fingertips with ease. That doesn’t happen every day. When it does, I guard the moment, avoid interruptions and stare straight ahead at the screen. I even ignore my husband as he stands at the den doorway, many syllables falling from his lips.
Phrases roll out of me today. The phone rings. I see the caller’s name. Oh no. I can’t listen to her list of ailments now. If she comes down with another infection, I’ll ask my doctor if I can be admitted to hospital. Perhaps a quiet closet there, one without a phone, could become my new writing home. Then again, maybe more whiners with unnamed infections would find me, pull up a chair and unload their symptoms on me.
I’m not compassionless, only human. Too many sicknesses, too many undiagnosed illnesses, too much description of them and my ears slam shut. Never ask “how are you,” I remind myself. Some will think you’re a fine Christian who really wants to know and they’ll tell you just how unfine they are. Pity’s reserved for those who seldom torture me with details of bodily functions. For them, my heart opens. But fall into the rut of endless ailments and swish, I’ll delete your name and number from my phone faster than Clark Kent can say Superman.
One day I went to a local clinic for a routine checkup. In the waiting room sat a couple I’d met at a community function, godly people everyone said. “How are you?” I asked. It wasn’t until after this I determined never to ask that question. They shook their lowered heads in unison, sagging eyes filled with sadness. “Not good. Not good,” they muttered. Then one uttered a phrase forever emblazoned in my brain, “If the devil can’t get ya comin, he’ll get ya goin.”
That’s the kind of faith everyone needs – one that gives the devil permission to chase you down and give you unidentifiable diseases, sicknesses that even the best doctors can’t diagnose. “I’ve had every test known to man,” said another acquaintance hypochondriac, “and they can’t find anything wrong with me.”
Good news then?
“No, no, I just know they’re not telling me something. I hate to say the word but I think it’s,” he lowers his voice and whispers, “cancer.”
“Nice to see you,” I lied and headed to the parking lot wondering if anyone has found a place to hide from wannabe invalids.