We fold laundry when it’s clean. We fold napkins on the table. We fold paper to fit in envelopes or to make shapes in origami. There are a multitude of things we fold.
If we are working, exercising or doing yoga positions, we fold parts of ourselves – bending an elbow, stretching a foot, etc. We see people bend or double over when overcome with laughter or when sick or in pain. But folding ourselves is not something we normally do, at least without purpose.
Yet I am folding unintentionally. My neck sometimes seems to be too weak to hold my head up and my shoulders are slouching. I’d like to think my head is heavier because I have gathered so much knowledge that my brain has grown; but sadly, I know that it is the combination of MS muscle weakness and the law of gravity that are causing me to fold. My torso is already crooked, leaning this way and that. In spite of exercising, I struggle to keep my back straight and I bend forward at the waist. This new weakening challenge in my neck and shoulders presents yet another obstacle to overcome in my daily life.
It’s tiring to keep my head up when talking with others, looking at a screen or any other daytime activity. The length of time I have to look straight forward will lessen over time. The view of my stomach in place of the rest of the world isn’t a good trade.
The tilt feature on my electric wheelchair helps sometimes and so does a neck pillow. I am grateful for these helpful tools. Still, I watch as my body misshapens and folds, bit by bit, making living increasingly difficult. As the present becomes harder to deal with, I hold fast to the active past that I enjoyed and the future life to come.
So if you see me hunched over in my wheelchair struggling to look up and engage in this world, try instead to see my soul smiling with memories and with anticipation for the life that follows.
Makes me think of the following story by L. B. Cowman that my Mom told.
“I heard of a mother who brought into her home as a companion to her own son, a crippled boy who was also a hunchback. She had warned her boy to be very careful not to touch the sensitive part of his life but to go right on playing with him as if he were an ordinary boy. She listened to her son as they were playing and after a few minutes he said to his companion “do you know what you have on your back?” The little hunchback was embarrassed, and he hesitated a moment. The boy said ‘it is the box in which your wings are; and someday God is going to cut it open, and then you will fly away [like] an angel.'”