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  • While doing morning yoga, my girlfriend paused the DVD to assist me in using a prop (strap). Because I am still floundering in the beginning stages of a practice and she is an instructor, she takes great care and love with my progress (when we met, she immediately started researching the safety and efficacy of yoga for multiple sclerosis). As she explained how things should work and watched me fail time and time again to position the strap on the balls of my feet, she struggled with the strap, my feet, the strap and, brow furrowed, finally whispered to herself in innocent bewilderment, "I don't know why this is challenging."

    I burst into peals of laughter as she tried to earnestly contend that her words weren't from exasperation. They weren't, of course, which makes it so much more beautiful that it's taken her the better part of a year to make any words whatsoever about my generally challenging state of existence. She has lived without complaint through belching fits that would make a sailor blush, complaints of pain that still are often nonsensical even to me and unpredictable bouts of fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and retard strength (dysmetria) that has seen her unintentionally punched when I believe I am reaching gently to touch her. She has laid next to me in bed reading aloud while opsoclonus's frozen lightning bolts swung my eyeballs like a state fair ride and there was no reading the computer screen. And now we were on the living room floor with a strap that seemed to slide from wherever it was placed and she finally spoke the kinds of words that I had been afraid of hearing all along; they had no subtext of exasperation, however, only one of pure "I will find you, answer to this problem."

    There was no judgement in her breath. She knows that my condition is painful but invisible and often less painful and more bewilderingly uncomfortable. And she never doubts my honesty, she never regards me underneath a stone of privacy as insane or -- worse yet! -- a faker. This is not the case for many people in my life, and certainly not the strangers who see me park in a handicapped spot. I laughed when the words escaped her lips and it seemed to bounce from my mat to hers. Her seven soft words of pure wondering could never have deigned to know their own strength.
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