Loneliness would be easier to bear if I didn’t know what acceptance felt like. Rejection would not lead me to deep depression if it lasted only a few days. But everyday for twelve years, I’ve faced loneliness, rejection and pain both emotional and physical. My heart hurts. But my waist hurts even more.
It hurts even now as I walk the lonely path which leads to Dr. Lee’s infirmary, but I have hope. I had heard so much about him. Seen my neighbors cured of certain unmentionable diseases, non like mine though, but strange and he cured them.
If you could see me, you would be reminded of your aged great grandmother, bent over by age leaning on a stick so as not to fall over. But I’m bent over , not by age, but by pain.
I’m at the door now. I knock softly, but persistently. A cracked sound from the inside shines a ray of hope on my tiring heart. I wait. Then I knock again. The door opens. This tall lean figure steps out, he looks into the distance then notices me after a second of confused expression. My smell drew his attention. After looking down at me for what seems like a century, he asks “Lady, may I help you?”
I’m confused. I need help. I look like I do. I smell like I do. But I answer because I have to “Yes, I want to see Dr. Lee”. He observes me for another minute then he steps aside to let me in. I place both hands on the stairs to aid climbing into the room. I can feel his eyes on me. I can sense the mixed emotions of pity and resentment in them. Pity for how awkwardly I walk in my bent over position and resentment for how terribly I smell. I know this. I’ve seen it in a thousand eyes for a dozen years.
“I can help you but can you afford my services?”
This is a first. The last doctors had started with telling me how terrible my situation was. Their speech, it made me desperate to pay. I paid huge amounts. Some per day and others hourly. I paid until all I had was my capital. And now, without thinking, I hug my purse. It has my capital in it. It’s my last money.
He’s sipping tea in what seems like a carved wood work. It reminds me of my parents. My siblings and cousins. It reminds of the feast of unleavened bread. The last one I had was over a decade ago. I can’t remember what it feels like to sip wine with family, to laugh at jokes and pray over meals.
“What do you say?”
His words jolt me back to my reality of aloneness. I open my purse and count what’s left before him. Dr. Lee doesn’t speak a word. He just sits, sipping and observing me like he was already carrying out diagnostics. Three thousand naira. I look up at him, he still has the blank look on his face.
I’m removing my dress now. He asked me to. I pull slowly, it aches to raise my hands in this bent position. He examines my body, probes my feminine softness with an expression that says “This is totally strange” I’m not surprised. It’s what they always say. He excuses himself. When he’s back, his hands smell of soap and disinfectant.
“I’m done. That examination cost five thousand naira bit I’ll settle for three”. I reach for my purse, my hands shaking, my heart hurting afresh. I hand him the money through sweaty hands and walk out, crawl actually. The air outside smells different. It smells of death. It aids deepen the sickening feeling that I will die bleeding.
“He’s here!!! Rabbi Yeshua is here!”
His name, it sends shrills down my spine. I first heard it yesterday. I planned I’ll meet him. Somehow I know if I touch him, I’ll stop bleeding. I don’t know how I know but I do. This alarm, it reminds me. The air twists its smell. I smell hope. I feel hope. It strengthens my bones and quickens my steps.
I see the crowd, smell the sweats and dirty legs. It’s discouraging. I’m too persuaded to stop now. I push through. Each time my blood smell hits a person’s olfactory nerves, they shift. The shifting continues, one body at a time. I’m still pressed on every side. So many people reaching to touch this strange person who has healed more people than our best physicians.
I can see Him now. He’s directly Infront of me. Right Infront of me. I feel it. I feel hope rising to its peak in my heart. I stretch and with shaky hands, I touch it. His gowns hem. It’s dry and rough. He stops. Does He feel it too? The electric shock that just ran through my spine. Does he?
“Who touched me?”
He certainly felt it! Fear seizes my heart. The last time I heard this question, I got excommunicated from my family’s meetings. They had been scared my disease was communicable. What if this rabbi thinks so too?
I hear laughter. It’s the one they call Peter. He jokes about everyone touching the Rabbi. But the Rabbi doesn’t smile back. He’s looking around, sure that someone touched Him. I stand up straight. I stand up straight!! I stand up straight for the first time in a dozen years and with unexplainable joy mixed with dread that He might be angry, I say “It’s me”.
He looks me in the eye. His look is different. No resentment. No pity either. His gaze holds compassion, pure and tangible. I could reach out and grab it. Then. He smiles. Then he says “Daughter, your faith has made you whole”. The glass shatters. The glass in my heart that helped me cope with aloneness. It shatters with a loud sound. I’m deafened by it. Dumbfounded. Love struck to numbness.
I wrap my hands around myself to keep from falling. I pinch my arms with my little finger to be sure I’m not dreaming. This is real. The great Rabbi Yeshua gave me his attention? I am standing straight? I can’t feel the tickle of blood pouring into the plastic bag stuffed beneath in-between my legs? He just called me daughter? His daughter.
I taste salt. It’s in my tears. I didn’t realize I was in tears. I’m whole. I know I am. I feel I am. The emotional wounds of piled up rejection, the years of yearning for a family to call mine, the heart burn of loneliness. All puffed in the vapour of his breath as he called me daughter.
In this moment. I’m healed of bleeding by his power. And freed from the emotional prison that came with this condition, by his love.
I am the I AM’s daughter!
Mark 5: 24-35