Last week I helped my sister Helene, who asked me to come in and do hair & makeup for 10 actors & actresses appearing in "Charley's Aunt". The students were awesome and so patient with me as I played around with different wigs and moustaches and makeup techniques. I actually had to pull out my old college textbook to remember how to properly apply a bald cap (Yes, I actually had an entire course in college devoted to stage makeup techniques!)I re-learned old makeup techniques and invented some new ones. But what I really learned last week came as a complete surprise...
For three hours a day I was just "Caroline, the lady helping with hair & makeup". The kids didn't know that my feet have been almost entirely numb for weeks. They didn't think anything of it when I squinted one eye at them, or looked at them sideways to try and see them better. They had no clue that I was anything other than clumsy when I dropped things every five minutes. They merely thought I was flaky when I asked them the same questions, "Did I tie the gold ribbon or the pink ribbon in your hair yesterday?" when in reality my short term memory is not what it used to be.
For three hours a day for five whole days I was just someone who helped put on a show. As I braided hair and powdered faces I could almost forget the constant pain, the numbness, the poor vision. I could almost, Almost forget that I had MS. For three whole hours!
It reminds me of the line from "The Wizard of Oz", in the very beginning, when Auntie Em tells Dorothy to go find "a place where there isn't any trouble".
"A place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain..." And Dorothy begins to sing my favorite song.
A place where there isn't any trouble...
An MS-Free Zone...A place where MS is not allowed to visit.
In those few precious hours I learned that moments in time exist where I can just be Caroline. I can make-believe that i am not sick, not in pain, not impaired. I know it is simply a moment and it will not last; however, having those moments gives me strength. And hope. It makes the moments of pain and frustration a little easier.
Who knows where the next MS-Free Zone will be? I am excited at the thought of it, whether it is three hours or three minutes. I aim to find more of them. And then somehow, slowly, I may be able to find my way back to myself. Not my former self, but a new version. Someone I am still getting to know, but every day liking a little bit more. :-)