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Bearing Up

Muscle Memory

By Frances Leah BrownPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - August 2023
Bearing Up
Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

After three years, CoVID caught up with me last week. I'm recovering and grateful for it, but since deep breaths are still a challenge, I rest, another day away from work, in a weird state of being "well-ish".

Two years ago, the Moderna vaccine nearly killed me, and since then, my fear of what the real virus might do to me has been hanging there in the shadowed wings of my mind. A heavy sandbag held up by a rope, way back there where extra counterweights are stored, because my show couldn't go on if it was constantly in view.

But when CoVID took me by the hand, it walked me into memories that came back with such a hard, visceral punch that I cried for hours before I finally recognized the panic attack. Well. Who knew that was waiting there next to the sand bag? Or maybe that WAS the sandbag. Taking shallow breaths this week equalled; Being in the ER and watching my doctor sweat as he told me my diagnosis. "You have 4 pulmonary emboli and a failing right ventricle." Waiting alone for 12 hours before they could find a bed for me. Suddenly feeling the presence of my late sister as she stood beside my gurney and pet my hair while I made peace with the fact that I was dying. All of that was tucked away and waiting in the wings to make a very dramatic entrance.

Along with the hard stuff from that time came little moments that were funny. The ultrasound tech from New Jersey who talked non-stop with that strong Jersey dialect as she examined my heart. I told her I'd once lived in Denville and she knew of it. "By Morristown? Oh hell yeah. There's mob money there." The ambulance medic who asked me my name and the year and I said, "2011". He looked at me in surprise and said, "Is it?" My brain whirred. "What did I say?" I started laughing and said, "It's 2021." He laughed and replied, "Oh man, I almost believed you and it shook me up." Nurses. Bless them. Kind and light hearted and gentle and encouraging.

I received the gift of more time on the planet with my family, music, theater people, nature, animals and all the slings and arrows that come with the good stuff.

We get to live in these structures of electrical impulses and walk around in them for a while. A tiny flash of time in a physical body that has all these senses and emotions and a brain that can create anything it imagines. How magical is that? It's taken me nearly 60 years to appreciate this flash of time that I'm experiencing thanks to this container, and though I look through eyes that need a lot of help to see my wobbly arms and crepey skin, I did experience being a bouncing, elastic, youthful creature, didn't I? I did. I got to stand on stages and belt out songs with every ounce of my soul, over and over again. I got to swing in a park at midnight on warm summer nights eating Jack in the Box food with musical theatre people who are still my friends. I got to run along the hallways and stairways of a nearly empty dorm building while singing the entire score of "Evita" with a friend. I got to experience the white nights of summer in Russia and collect a bouquet of cornflowers on the banks of Neva river. I got to sing with my sister friends and make harmonies that gave me goosebumps and laugh, oh so much laughter. I got to meet and marry a very good man, and share a mountain of life with him, including the experience of flying to China to adopt our daughter, and the nearly 19 years of being her mother.

I think those memories out weight the sandbags that are hanging around, and all I have to do is draw aside the curtain and there they are, waiting for me.


About the Creator

Frances Leah Brown

I am a singer, a story teller on stage and in print, and a lover of family and nature.

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Comments (6)

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  • Muftau Ishaq26 days ago

    Please I just wrote an article, help me rate it so I can do better.

  • Manisha Dhalaniabout a month ago

    Enjoyed reading your reflections. Hope you feel better.

  • Rose Smithabout a month ago

    In 'Bearing Up,' the author beautifully captures the essence of resilience and strength in the face of life's challenges. The article reminds us that like a sturdy tree weathering a storm, we too have the power to stand tall and endure."

  • Margaret Brennan2 months ago

    I've been one of the lucky ones that never got Covid. I watched my husband during his illness and recovery. I listened daily to my friend's aunt as she recalled each second her husband was on a ventilator. ... Many years ago, I had surgery and a very bad reaction to the anesthesia. I was on a ventilator for eight hours. The scariest eight hours of my life. That's why as soon as the Covid Vaccinations became available, I got mine. I didn't want to repeat what happened so many years ago. GREAT story, by the way. I hope more people read this and take care.

  • Jazzy Gonçalves 2 months ago

    I also hope you recover well! This was a delightful piece to read; I'm sorry this is something you're going through. I also thought I would die from the vaccine, and I was in bed for a whole day after the shot!

  • Judey Kalchik 2 months ago

    Your reflections show part of a life that is joyful and Beautiful! I hope your recovery continues smoothly!

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