I feel sated when I step off the elliptical. The kind of satisfaction that comes from knowing it was an enjoyable experience. I turn my phone on and see a notification from my aunt. It brings worrisome tidings. I call her and get her voicemail.
Through the morning the phone lines are busy exchanging details and having conversations that are triggering. In families battling chronic health issues or even acute ones, the caregiving seems to disproportionately fall on the women. They pace the corridors. They harangue the orderlies. They run pillar to post for updates. They pay bills. They fetch medicines. Most of all they worry.
The worry is a constant gnawing at the base of the stomach, a physical ache that has its source in the brain. It is the cumulation of years of anticipating bad news and preparing for it. For some, it is the innate need to know, to solve the problem like they would everything else in life. For, if you knew the problem, the solution is a shimmering possibility. If the diagnosis is not quite comprehensible, where do you go about putting together pieces, assembling solutions, organizing aftercare?
I tell my aunt to take care of herself. I tell her that she must rest in order to be able to care for another. I hang up and drive to work thinking about her. Actually, I am thinking about all the times I paced the hospital floors, riding elevators, paying bills, fetching prescriptions and generally fighting the adrenaline flow that kept me going long past the crisis reached its inevitable end.
The body remembers the trauma. It remembers to conserve energy, it remembers to eat when you get a chance, it remembers to be ready for flight.
Sometimes, all it takes is a text on a phone.