Linda Koebner

Elephants: Another Day with CFS


Linda Koebner ~

Two elephants won’t leave me alone.

Every morning, as I struggle into consciousness, my brain makes plans. I will get up out of bed, go pee, find my way to the kitchen, put water on to boil, fit the paper into the coffee filter, grind beans, slow-pour over the grinds….

In my mind’s eye, I visualize that the coffee is hot, that the news I read is upsetting and that, caffeinated and dressed, I am up and into my day. My thoughts take me out the front door for a long walk with my dogs, and then to work.

The reality is that I haven’t moved a muscle.

Lipstick

 
My mother’s scent, Replique, always entered my bedroom an instant before she did. The message my nose carried to my brain, then on to my heart, was “She’s going out tonight.” 
 
She would first sit on the edge of my mattress. The comfort of her nearness would always be overshadowed by the sadness that I knew would overtake me once she left me alone. But we both pretended it didn’t matter. She’d say all the requisite things like “Sleep tight” and “See you in the morning” and “I love you.” And then she would kiss my hand and be gone–leaving behind a waxy, deep-red imprint of her lips, pressed onto my skin. 

Imagine

Linda Koebner 

“Her vitals are fine,” the nurse told Besarta’s mother during a rare visit to the family’s basement apartment in the Bronx.

Besarta’s mind is also fine–sharp and clear. She asked me to use her real name in this story.

Her twenty-five-year-old face is beautiful and flawless, despite the howls of frustration, rage and pain she directs at her family, at fate and especially at Friedreich’s ataxia, the disease that controls her.

When I come for our weekly visit, Besarta’s blue-green eyes smile at me from where she sits in her wheelchair. Then her head suddenly wobbles sideways. Her face smashes against the chair’s headrest–first the right side, then the left.

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