| Moonwalk |

Moonwalk: Chapter 16

Words aren’t going to help me stand up again. Words aren’t going to let me move my aching muscles


As told to Rochel Samet


My first thought when I wake up in the morning is, I’m never going to pass the Navi final.

My second thought is, I can’t get out of bed.

Then I take a deep breath, maneuver my feet to the edge of the bed, pull myself up s-l-o-w-l-y, and try to stand up.

That’s when I realize I was right on both counts: I’m not going to pass any finals today, because I literally can’t get out of bed.

My head is spinning. What’s happening to me? Why can’t I move my legs? Everything hurts so much. My knees are burning. I look down at my aching legs dangling uselessly over the side of the bed, and my breath catches in my throat. Why do my ankles look double their size?

I fall back on the bed and try to shift my legs into a comfortable position, but every movement is agony. I yelp in pain, and salvation appears at the door: Ma, knocking tentatively, and poking her head in.

“Libby? Was that you?”

I am so relieved to see her, I start to cry.

“Ma, I can’t walk, I can’t stand up, my legs don’t work, they hurt so much...”

She blinks. “Oh no, Libby, and you’ve been feeling so much better recently...”

I clench my blanket between sweaty fingers, then let go. My hand hurts too. “I don’t know... What’s wrong with me, Ma?” I burst out. “I can’t walk! There’s something wrong, I need help, you need to do something...”

“I’m going to call Ta,” Ma says. “Don’t worry, Libby, we’ll find out what this is all about. The doctor — or, I know, we’ll call the rheumatologist, that one who wanted to give you medication, maybe she can help...”


The words drift around me, useless pieces in an upside-down world. Words aren’t going to help me stand up again. Words aren’t going to let me move my aching muscles. Words can’t take the pain away.

Ma’s back again, plan of action in hand. “So I’ll tell the doctor… you can’t stand up? Your ankles are swollen? Your knees hurt?”

I take inventory through the haze in my brain. “Yeah, and everything’s hot, my ankles are burning. And my hands. They hurt also.”

Ma nods very fast. “Okay, Libby, I’ll come back up as soon as the kids are off to school and Ta’s home. Do you need anything?”

I can’t get out of bed. I swallow hard, but panic has erupted inside me. I don’t want her to leave, I don’t want to be left alone and helpless, chained by the agony in my body.

“I’m fine,” I whisper.

True to her word, Ma is back a half hour later.Somehow, she manages to get me to the bathroom and back, and promises to let me know as soon as they get through to the rheumatologist. “Maybe try to sleep in the meantime,” she suggests. I let out a moan which she takes as agreement.

Shadows and light play across the bedroom walls, and I wonder how long it’s been since she left me. Minutes? Hours? Half a day?

I try to roll over, but the pain shoots up so bad, I end up groaning out loud. “Owww… help me… it hurts…”

When Ma comes back, I can’t believe it’s only just past midday. Apparently, I have an emergency appointment at the lab.

“The rheumatologist took this very seriously,” Ta says, sounding gratified that a professional doctor is giving my problems the attention they deserve. It’s funny because it’s not so long ago that he wasn’t taking this seriously himself. “She sent a script for blood work to the lab, and if we go soon, she’ll get the results quicker. And then…”

The words trail off into silence. I’m struck, suddenly, by how hopeful words can be.

“Then what?” I dare to ask.

Ta spreads his hands. “Then, we daven that she finds us some answers.”

to be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 815)

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