“To Die, To Sleep…” Shakespeare

My pleadings with the Lord, and my tears have long since dried up. I have been dropped in a barren wasteland so thick I can feel the grit lining the inside of my mouth. My breath is shallow and scrapes my tongue as it sweeps down the back of my throat. My body aches as I attempt to straighten my legs. I am still alive. The deep echo of pain in my chest and my stomach brace for the spasm of my diaphragm. It comes in waves, as it rips buried emotion from my core. I am left breathless, empty, and bleeding inside. This torture is what it means to feel alive in this moment. I know I am not dead, though I wish to be. Instead, I feel the burn of the stinging filth I have been abandoned to. Every joint, every sinew even down to the marrow that sustains my life is wrapped up in the betrayal of my soul to itself.

I have felt nothing like it before. I have nothing to compare it to. My brain grasps for words to cling to for reassurance. A noun, verb, a label -anything that might give me something to touch on. My head feels the weight of the fragile connections it is trying to make. I start to feel tiny pins like glass began to scratch deep inside my brain as a bridge begins to take shape in my mind.

Without warning, a see a bright flash of red behind my eyes. I am startled and it causes me to catch my breath, setting off another body spasm. With my body clenched struggling to contain the emotional seizure, an image of the bridge solidifies and I see a red flash that settles into a smooth wave.

“As long as you shall keep that handkerchief, it shall remain a league between you and me.”

The quote settled my body, and the story played out like a film in my mind. Joseph Smith had been on the banks of the Mississippi, healing the sick, and had even raised a man from the dead. The ferryman, who was a witness to the miracles asked if Joseph would cross the river and heal his two daughters who were ill. He said he could not go, but instead pulled a red silk handkerchief from his pocket and gave to Wilford Woodruff. He told him to go with the man, and wipe the handkerchief across their foreheads, and they would be healed. The children were healed. The quote would be the parting words Joseph gave to Brother Woodruff. [1]

I remember the same instruction given by Paul in the Book of Acts. “So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs…and the diseases departed from them.” (Acts 19:12)

Then, a peace covers me as I remember the Woman with the issue of blood who knew that if she could simply “…touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” (Mark 5:28)

A question then enters my broken soul. “Do you see a pattern here?” I admit I do. Then I feel a gentle whisper “hold on.”

A warmth spreads within my chest and cocoons my body. I hear someone say “rest.” I close my eyes, and for the first time in a very long time, I do just that.

My battle was just beginning…

[1] (Cowley, 1909)

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