Does It Hurt Here?

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia’s Picture It and Write.

When I was little, my Nana used to play a game with me whenever I got hurt. I couldn’t have been much older than four the first time I remember sitting on my bed with my knees all skinned up and Nana by my side. She had half the medicine cabinet out, all set to put things right, and of course I was protesting. The ripped-open skin with all my insides escaping was quite traumatic when I was four.

But Nana had it all under control. She calmly put the Bactine, and the gauze, and the tape, and the Neosporin, and the awful, dreaded scissors down on the bed, behind me where I couldn’t see them. “Now,” she said. “Show me where it hurts.”

“Nana-aaa,” I whimpered. She could plainly see I was bleeding to death from my knees.

“I see some tears here,” she said, poking gently at my cheek. “Does it hurt here?”

“No, Nana,” I complained. “It hurts here!”

“Your nose is running,” she said, poking at that. “Does it hurt here?”

“Nana!”

She tickled my ribs. “Does it hurt here?”

And so the game went on, until when at last she poked the tender area next to my skinned knees, I had giggled away my apprehension.

“Yes. That’s where it hurts.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed in surprise. “Let’s see if we can fix it then.”

I  get migraines. I don’t get them as often anymore, but I got them a lot between the ages of nine and thirteen and then fairly frequently all throughout school. For those of you who don’t get them, “migraine headache” is a misnomer. It’s not a headache. It’s more like your brain was involved in a near-fatal accident. The emergency crew has arrived, and they are prying open your head with the Jaws of Life so your brain can be extracted and air-lifted to the nearest hospital.

Nothing makes migraines go away. But somehow, when Nana was around, she could make them better with Does It Hurt Here. It didn’t matter that we’d played the game so many times, I would say, “No, you’re supposed to poke here first.” Something about knowing Nana’s silly game could make it better always did make it better.

I was nineteen when Nana died, in my sophomore year more than six hundred miles away. When Mama called me to give me the news, I was in shock. Nana was only sixty-seven. We didn’t even know she was sick, but it turned out she’d been sick a long time. She died of cancer. It was the first time in my life I imagined there might be pain worse than a migraine.

I wept angrily. It was impossible to be angry at Nana, so I was just angry. She’d spent years living with the pain and never said a word. I understood that she and Mama were never close, but she could have told me. She should have told me. Instead, the pain of her cancer was probably unbearable at times, and she bore it alone. I would have given anything for the chance to sit next to her on her bed, poke her cheek, and ask her, “Does it hurt here?”

© 2012 Anne Schilde

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About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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16 Responses to Does It Hurt Here?

  1. Phil Gayle_For Singles and Couples says:

    Hi Anne,
    I re-read your ‘Annie’s world’ page just to try to get a clearer picture of you.
    I like your style, you share a lot but still manage to keep a certain distance which causes us to see just enough but never the whole you. 🙂

    I used to suffer with migraines frequently when I was young (due to my eyes) but now they only occur if I really push myself hard and neglect my sleep.
    It’s sad when people walk about suffering and in pain in silence but I suppose some feel, what’s the point in speaking about it? especially if telling people isn’t going to make the pain go away…perhaps your nana was like that.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Anne Schilde says:

      I really doubt that I’ll ever be more than a name attached to my stories, Phil. At least not intentionally. It’s much too important to me that the stories, even the ones I tell in my comments, have a life of their own.

      The people in our lives are only what they mean to us and what we remember of them. We never have a complete picture of anyone, even ourselves. And so yes, for you, Nana was very much like that! 😉

      Thanks always for reading! ♥

  2. joetwo says:

    A wonderful story. Filled with joy, love, and heartbreak.

  3. Tender and enchanting…!
    I’ve always said, “It is the kindnesses that we remember most.”
    Your story exemplified that belief, Anne…
    Thank You, it was a lovely read; the kind that lingers……. xoxoxo

  4. II says:

    Oh gosh. Very beautiful and sweet. Sounds much like an anecdote.

  5. Anna says:

    I really shouldn’t have read this at work, I’m tearing up at my desk. I hope you know just how much your stories touch me, every single time. There is no one in the world quite like you. Much love x

  6. Umm…have I told you lately how brilliant you are? No? Then that’s my fault….I should tell you more often.

    P.S. I’m sorry I’ve been away so much…haven’t had a chance to even log in to WP in months. Sigh…now I remember all that I’ve been missing. 🙂

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Christy! It’s nice to see you again! I was just wondering yesterday if it was time for one of Steve’s missing blogger reports. Your Spidey senses must have been tingling. I hope everything’s okay.

  7. Annie,

    this one really touched me. I shed a tear for… loved ones, my father who would distract me – and my mother who is still living and still distracts me – my grandmother who was a loving woman,
    for the love I’ve had for and for the distracting of my own children – for love itself and the tenderness that is given when we love… and the pains that we hide sometimes from the ones we love and the loved ones who hide the pain from us, too.

    Thank you, Annie.

    Randy

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