She unwounded from screaming bloody murder to whimpering snivels. Straddling her back, my elbow pressed her deltoid and my knee heavy on her gluteal aponeurosis. I was almost done and she almost forgave every one of my faults if only I would got off her back.
"Why do you always massage with vengeance?" Mother rolled to her side, throwing me off balance into the bed. "Why does it have to hurt so much EVERYWHERE you touch?"
I said, "That's just you being more aware of its presence, Ma. Even if I don't massage, it's there. You just got used to ignoring it. All I did was poke it alive."
"By shooting more pain?"
"Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. All I'm doing is just help your body be more aware of that. The good news is that, once we are aware of your pain, we can have it flushed."
"Flush? That's a nice word to call 'irrepressible, loud and ungraceful retching'. Isn't there a prettier way?"
"Sorry, ma, sickness is sickness; it's always unpleasant. Besides, I would be sick instead if I did not release your negative Lom. Lom, by the way, is the Thai word for human energy, chi, electricity, calories etc."
"How would you know about Lom?"
"Oh well, the Universe had her odd ways of giving clues when I was prepared to follow. Enough questions, Mama. Time to sleep. Don't you feel better?"
She looked within her and sniveled again. Deeper. The floods of fresh Lom washed her with something cool and calm and - inevitably, as all memories come - sad. "I wish you had known of your gift when my mama was ill."
"No, Mama; that's the devil's talk. Gramma had the best treatment available for her. Whether doctors, tabibs, xifus or hodun witches, we are mere messengers. Illness is from God; only God heals, and death is but the ultimate absence of all illness."
I felt her creases smoothen. There were no more intrusive thoughts or feelings jagged between us. With enough explanation, faith can sometimes be allowed to take over, and stand guard as we sleep.
* It should go without saying that massage is a technique and I'm not just recklessly inflicting pain. Apply what you read with discretion.