They told me monks invented the shape of pretzels to mimic the shape their arms would make while praying, so I placed one after another in my mouth and ate prayer after silent, salty prayer. I didn't bite down. Not once. Instead I let the salt granules melt, the dark layer of brown disintegrate until the soggy innards of the prayer became nothing but thickened saliva for me to swallow. This was holy work, this ingestion of unspoken prayers. It was the only food I could eat since eating seemed so odd to me. How could I pick up a fork while my pale three-year-old lay fighting for his life next to me? I was afraid to breathe, let alone chew.
"Eat, Amanda! Eat!" the nurses would say, the relatives would say, the teary-eyed-and-bewildered friends would say. I always nodded. "What sounds good?" they'd all ask.
I would say, "pretzels," but it might as well have been "prayers." That was all that seemed to register in my mind. That's the only thing I was doing without making the words at all. Just the feeling. So, when words to God couldn't be formed without sobs, I prayed in pretzels.
All Gideon will eat right now without crying in pain is soft pretzels without salt. I have been warming them up at school and bringing them to the lunchroom. The damage to his intestinal area from all of this chemo poison doesn't seem to want to heal. His insides are aflame and in so much pain. So, I feed him more plain and tasteless pretzels, and I can't help but feel myself being transported back to that hospital stay full of pretzels and fear. My prayer pretzels have not heard any new ones lately. Heal, baby! HEAL!
Can a communion wafer be made out of pretzel? I think it should.
Gideon is upstairs sleeping. He wants me to crawl in bed with him so that we can cuddle. He promises to "Treat me like a lightbulb" even though he's on his "crazy person medicine" (steroids). That's what he said... I will be his lightbulb and he will treat me like a fragile thing since I am his "sweet momma". Thank you, God. He is a gift even when he is RAGING from the medicine.
Gideon had his spinal chemo on Tuesday, and today he had a headache through and through to a full-on body-on-fire-ache. Again, my boy was able to curl up on my beanbag and sleep as my classes filed in and sang and danced around him. I kept offering going to grandma's house, but he wanted to be by momma. And pretzels. Those prayer-full pretzels.
I think I will break open a bag now.