The 'Greatest Gift' That Gives Me Hope as I Battle Chronic Pain


Last night my husband Eric helped me outside, bundled me in the wheelchair and wheeled me about four houses down the block. Other than little trips to sit in our front bench or back deck, this was my first foray into the outside world in seven days. So you can imagine it was glorious.

The world of evening spring grabbed us in a bear hug.  The embrace of reunited loved ones.

It’s rained a lot the past few days: the street smelled like spring’s perfume. It turned the trees hanging above us a brilliant beautiful emerald, a green that evokes long ago memories of my Catholic school teachers telling my child self that green is the colour of new life on God’s earth.  

It all comes back to me so clearly now, on these days I spend much time in bed, willing pain away. I stare darkness in the face, want to scream it down. I want my life back.

The darkness recedes, memories push through. I am back in my second grade Catholic school classroom. Sunlight floats in through the hard metallic window. Endless sunlight. No pain. Only hope and promise.

My stubby 7-year-old fingers push a hard wrinkled brownish bean into a dirt-filled Styrofoam cup. I wait on the promise of a small green bean plant. If it grows, I’ll have a gift to give on Mother’s Day. I learn hope as I wait for the moment when the first small green shoot leaps out of mere dirt toward the sun, like a prima ballerina born for the stage.

Ahhh memories. These days as I’ve slid, as if down a terrible playground’s slide, through pain and disability, the memories are more precious than I knew memories could be. How is it that in a time of physical loss I learn just how precious life is? That what a gift there is in the lives we live? That ordinary life is nothing short of spectacularly miraculous?

It makes me kick my heels into the slide. Makes me pull myself with all I am back up. Against the darkness. Toward the light.

Birds chirp their springtime concerto. The sun warms my face, even as evening wanes. I love that in this part of Canada at this time of year it’s still bright so late in the day.

Our walk/ride ends; the green trees dip down, wave good bye. Grasp my spirit in a “see you soon” hug. Eric returns me and the wheelchair back home.

We pass the little wheelchair accessible garden I began planting a few weeks ago. I was feeling pretty good just a few weeks ago. It is a beacon to where I hope to return.

I point out to Eric: a small, tiniest of tiny little green plant has poked up through the soil! This is sheer delight — whether in a second grade classroom or to a life-aged, pain-battling mama.

“No,” Eric says. “Look again.”  He lifts the pot close up so I can see. And I do see… so clearly.

All over the pot are tiny little green points. They are minuscule, some barely bigger than a pinhead. Too small to be called seedlings. Or shoots. Barely plants, experiencing their first ever taste of sunshine and spring air. Their first taste of life.

And my heart discovers. Sometimes life is hard. Hope seems faint. Pain and darkness seem to win. But those little shoots, tiny as they are, are victory embodied over darkness. They fight pain and herald life.

New life. Green life. The greatest gift of all.

And my heart says thank you.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was one moment you received help in an unexpected or unorthodox way related to disability, disease or mental illness? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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