I always hated when people said, “no pain, no gain.” But, I learned first-hand, the other night that agony and ecstasy sometimes go hand in hand. My grand revelation came during the musical Aladdin in Manhattan.
My day began like many others except, for one thing, I was holding tickets to a Broadway show and I didn’t pay for them. The executive assistant to the General Manager at the television station where I work sent out a note stating their office had received a handful of free tickets to the show. To get your wish for a pair of tickets granted, employees merely had to reply to the email. We were told they’d be given out on a first come, first serve basis.
Now usually I would’ve missed an email like this because I get anywhere between one and two hundred emails on any given day. Add to that, the number of stories I research, write and edit and there is very little time to pay attention to anything frivolous. But, as luck would have it, my fiancé was at my desk when the message came in. He appeared to look at my screen, prompting me to read it. I immediately hit reply. A few hours later, I was notified that I was one of the lucky few going to the show.
Without even thinking about it, I fired off an email to my mother to invite her. I knew it would be a welcome break from the boredom of her retirement and the stress of caring for my dad who has been battling seizures. The majority of time she left home, she came to care for me following my multiple procedures to restore my ability to walk without persistent pain. Of course, she emailed back to say she would be thrilled to go.
Two days before my big night out, Mary, a new Executive Assistant in the office and most constant lunch companion, spared me from making the difficult trip two flights up with my cane to pick up my tickets. I didn’t know it then but getting the tickets would be the easy task.
The day of the show my mom called to check and see I how was feeling. Even though my shoulder was already giving me trouble, I didn’t let on. I decided not to take my evening pain pill; I didn’t want it to make me sleep during the show. I wasn’t certain I ‘d be able to make it nearly four hours, with commuting time, without my pills but I felt I had to risk it. By 6:15 when I left work, I was already massaging my shoulder and the top of my back.
I was five minutes late meeting my mom at the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street but she didn’t mind. We hustled through the crowd, me with my cane by my side, until we reached the orchestra. I paused, wondering if the steep incline leading to our seats would be a problem. It was; I felt pulling I my legs and back but I made it.
Halfway through the first act, I felt pins in my back, legs and feet. I tried to discreetly rub my limps to relieve the irritation but it wasn’t long before my mother noticed me wincing from sharp pains. I reassured her I’d be fine and we went back to watching the show.
When the curtain went down and the house lights came up, I tried to stand up but both feet were numb, my knees were achy and my back hurt as far down as my waist. Without a word, my mother reached for my coat. She held it up so I could still my arms through the sleeves without wrenching my shoulder. She then stood beside me as the theater cleared out as I tried to gather myself for the trip home. While we stood there it hit me that the pain I was feeling was worth it.
You see, my mother has never complained about the pain she went through bringing me into the world. She never dwelled on the sacrifices she made to dropping everything to stay at my house after procedures to make sure my bandages and ice packs are changed, I had my medication, my meals are made, my body was washed and my days filled with laughter.
I watched her take one final gaze at the set and I suddenly became ecstatic; I was thrilled I could give provide her with her first theater experience in years. More importantly, I was overjoyed that I could put a smile on the face of the woman who’d given me so many.
Also I thought about what the Bible says, “The righteous person may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all,” Psalms 34:19. So, as I made my way home cautiously, I knew I’d be okay because my mother wasn’t alone in watching out for my well-being; I always have God in my corner too.