An old house sits on a well-groomed lot in the middle of a Midwest city in America. Within that house is a room. It has withstood years of wear and circumstances and it has morphed with the changes time brings.
The walls of the room took on their first layer of personality as they heard the cries and laughter of a baby, being happily adorned first with pink wallpaper showing a pattern of bottles and rattles. The room was loved and well cared for. Soon, a new wallpaper of childhood was added on top of the first, reflecting images of children’s toys and baby dolls, and then a layer of early school years followed with pencils and projects and friends and activities as its decorations.
As teen years arrived, new layers covered the old, each reflecting the growth in life. Talents, skills and knowledge were acquired and each new thing added an imprint in a mosaic pattern upon the walls symbolizing the experiences of a life and radiating the hopes and dreams a life holds. Adulthood, dating and marriage each covered the walls with unique designs of wallpaper. As desires and wishes were realized, the glue adhered tighter between the layers beneath, cementing each period into one timeline.
Images of places, city names and people’s faces created patterns in layer upon layer of wall coverings on the room’s space. Motherhood arrived and with it even more layers were added with colorful pictures representing the celebration of each growing personality, excitement of each phase of childhood and the anticipation of things to come. Milestones came and went, splashing designs on the walls as they happened. Busy days left artistic strokes of brilliance on the walls. Conversations were flares of color and laughter imprinting joy in every corner. Designs were carved on the surface of the walls, shaping them as struggles became valuable lessons. Friends and family sketched their own designs at every level from floor to ceiling. The space was well planned and nicely decorated.
And then it seemed as if someone cut off the decorating budget. Over time, the tempo slowly slowed and the aura of the room began to change.
Rolling forward through time to the present, most of the room’s function has passed. There are no new pictures or patterns. Time has become almost stagnant in the room, but the rest of the house…the neighborhood…the city… is still solid and useful. The world keeps turning in spite of the room’s gradual and quiet halt. Age and lack of attention began to wear small holes in the paper. Disease is infesting the room and ravaging the stability of the walls. They have weakened in places …too brittle to be repaired. There is no glue strong enough to hold paper to what is structurally unsound. As hope fades, so do the colorful coverings. The corners of the layered paper begin to come loose. The walls begin to crumble.
And ever so slowly, the wallpaper begins to separate from the wall. A layer slumps over onto itself and gravity pulls it down further. Sometimes the tearing is slow, hardly noticeable. Other times the progression of disease causes multiple layers to quickly tear off together.
If the paper is grabbed ahold of in an attempt to save it from ripping, it only tears harder and faster from the weight of emotion.
The affects of the unwanted guest called illness cover the window like a blanket and robs the room of its light, leaving it cold and musty. In this way, the usefulness of the room is stripped away in pieces and layers, reversing the usefulness and adaptability that once belonged there. The area has changed, taking on a rather distressed appearance. The room looks sad, causing many to avoid its doorway. Joy is derived by viewing images of what the room used to look like.
I am the room.
As paper decorates a room’s walls, the walls of my life have been built deep with layers of love and learning. Through time I have been witness to much activity within me and around me. The excitement and joy in the busyness of life is deeply woven into the fibers that compose the paper. MS peels away the layers of my being like aged wallpaper, reversing my abilities. The walls are marred, blemished, flawed…as am I. Each tear in the paper represents a loss I have experienced. Watching the layers physically strip away is sad. I adjust and I can live within the ugly room. But feeling the painful emotional changes as the paper tears is sometimes excruciating.
The walls of my life do talk. They speak for themselves in the way they appear. And if you listen closely, you can hear them softly cry….missing what once was.
Note: I believe in staying positive amidst whatever life throws us. I also believe in being real and honest….and that healthy grieving is required to move forward. Some days are rough. The day I wrote this was one of those.
NOTE: Two months after writing this post, I saw this with the torn wallpaper and wonderful true words.