"Can I pimp out your cane?" The familiar question is posed by a 9-year-old.
It isn't just a youthful wish. People are predictable in their desire to improve my cane's appearance. The building assistant wants to paint it, an aunt wants to bejewel it, a friend wants to crochet a sleeve for it; like a giant furry condom for an incredibly long, hard, and thin appendage.
My cane is fine. It is useful, and at times necessary. However, I prefer I'd never had laid eyes on the little bugger. I have been sick for the better part of a year, but I can't seem to shake the annoyance I feel when I glance at my steadfast friend. It's like that annoying kid sister who trails you like a shadow. Or the beautiful woman who steals the limelight in the room. The dispensable henchman of a dark passenger in a sinister plot. Ignore the characters, and they might go away. Pretend they aren't there and it might make you feel better. Pimping out the cane draws attention to them; to my illness.
I'd like a divorce. On my worst days, Mr. Sunshine and I joke about getting a full-body transplant, preserving my head in a jar. Put me on a shelf with some knickknacks and bring me down for conversations. The thought of divorce from my body has brought me some comfort in this: you aren't your illness, you aren't your body or its decorations and devices; tattoos, piercings, makeup, and canes be damned. You are made up of an assemblage of parts that either works well, or isn't working so hot right now. But your body isn't you.
Nowhere was this more evident than the funeral I recently attended. The deceased was waxy, a hollow reminder of his former vibrancy. I was a bit uncomfortable looking at the shell of a man I had cared for, but I knew he wasn't there. Just like I reside in a body where its mechanisms have gone a bit haywire, bits and pieces not quite lining up right, no fault of my own, no cause attributed to me, just a fact. I'm here and doing the best I can to ease the grind of my misaligned cogs, damnit.
Until I can laugh like Grandma, become impervious to the pitying looks of others, and am truly divorced from my body, I have no interest in pimping out my cane. It doesn't need the extra attention, and I don't need the oft heard, "but you're too young and pretty..."
I am fickle. I may change my mind. Or be persuaded to do so. Maybe I won't mind my shiny friend stealing the attention, in some cases it may be useful. I can hear the outraged cries now "you mean you can lift that on your own?" In time I may come to see the cane as a sign of my strength despite this disability. Hey, I'm here, I'm moving and breathing. But for now, it can remain comfortably in my shadow, blooming dark promises of a future tied exclusively to me.
Keep your bejewelers, sequins, and stickers to yourself and don't ask. I'm not pimping it.