three little birds

Until the age of 32, I wasn’t an anxious person at all. I didn’t worry about anything other than the things anyone worries about — will I fall in love, will I be able to pay my credit card bill, will work suck tomorrow. Normal every day things. Then my mother died suddenly, and I was left with a legacy of anxiety — will something happen to me, too, something I don’t see coming. It’s turned me into a minor hypochondriac, unfortunately. I’m always worried. I’m frequently scared. Sometimes — a lot of the time — over nothing. Unfortunately, not always. Once my gall bladder nearly burst. They fixed that. And then my back pretty much broke. They sort of fixed that.

I had a spinal fusion of the L4-L5 vertebrae in the fall of 2012, after injuring my back in October 2011. In that preceding year I’d tried everything — PT, drugs, a chiropractor, cortisone — and none of it did any good. An MRI showed plain as day that surgery was the only other option. The day the neurosurgeon told me about the surgery, describing the hardware they’d install in my spine, I went out in the car and cried, totally terrified. But we went ahead, and a few months and some insurance hassles later, it was time.

The morning of my surgery, I was terrified. No one likes general anesthesia but each time I’ve had it I’m convinced I won’t wake up again. This time, I tried hard to stay calm that morning, even as I feared the worst. And as we got ready to go to the hospital, I thought of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”. The song ran through my head on the ride there, and as I was admitted and waited to be taken in. Over and over I heard it, and it must have helped because when they took my blood pressure it was surprisingly normal, given my agitated state, and I stayed calm through it all. As they wheeled me to pre-op, and as they put me on the table, I heard those lines —

Rise up this morning
Smile with the rising sun
Three little birds
Each by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying, “This is my message to you”
Singing “Don’t worry ’bout a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singing “Don’t worry ’bout a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

A few hours later I woke up and it was over.  The surgery was harder than I’d imagined it would be, and, in the long run, while not quite as entirely successful as I wanted it to be, enough so that I got my life back. My surgeon’s nurse, a kind and tireless person who never turned my calls away no matter how often I asked her the same questions over and over, told me once, “The goal of this surgery is not to fix your back. Nothing can fix it. The goal is to make it better, and to make you feel better.” And it did, and I do. I just don’t feel *completely* better, and that’s just the way it has to be. Sometimes I’m angry about that.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Since the day Dave asked me to marry him, and before, even, he’s always been there for me, taking care of me, and telling me not to worry. When he does that, I don’t stop worrying, of course — it’s not that simple — but he says it all the same, and each time something new scares me or makes me anxious, hearing him tell me it’s going to be okay helps a little bit more.

so, today I got this:

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on my shoulder, to always have that reminder with me, to remember the times Dave’s told me it’ll be okay and that it always is. Whatever happens, he says, we’ll work it out, and we always do. Maybe a time will come that I’ll remember that right away before the worry starts. But until then, and even after then, this will always be with me

4 thoughts on “three little birds

    • Thanks! My tattoo artist in Smithtown, NY drew it himself, so I don’t have anything other than the image on my back, here. I confess I don’t know how such things work as far as copyright goes. The shop I got it was Liberty Tattoo Co on Main St, in Smithtown NY. As far as I’m concerned personally, you’re welcome to show this picture to an artist you know.

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