A few years ago, I decided that I needed to have a painting of the star of Bethlehem. After looking in vain for the perfect one, and of course none existed and STILL doesn't exist, I decided to paint one myself. "How hard could it be?" I asked myself. Foolishly.
Turned out it was a very, very hard thing to do. Ah, it was possible to paint a star, but it was not possible for me to paint the PERFECT star.
But I tried anyway and my artist daughter gave me a few suggestions and some guidance. I suppose I should confess here that she actually sketched in a great deal of the picture and left me to basically paint-by-number the rest of it. I struggled with the project for weeks, then stuck it up on the wall unfinished. By the time I pounded a nail in the wall and crankily splatted the canvas up there, I really was tired of the whole thing. Actually, I was really, really tired in general. So tired that I don't think I even cared that the thing had bare canvas around all of the edges and jagged edges of other colored paint here and there.
I didn't put it back up after that year, telling myself that someday I'll just get out some craft paint and finish the edges and put an actual picture hanging wire on the back.
Funny how that just didn't happen. Until today.
I unpacked my creche, put it out in it's usual spot, and realized yet again that something was missing, and that something was the star. So I dug out the painting from the attic, not certain that it had even survived after these three years or so. But it did. I rummaged around in the garage and came up with a beat-up sponge paintbrush and a squeeze bottle of green craft paint. It took all of about ten minutes to pound in a picture hanger on the back, and another ten to dab that border onto the canvas.
This time when I hung the painting, it slid into place beautifully. When viewed from the sides or from the top, the green paint neatly edged the canvas. After I finished fussing and centering, I sat back on my heels and was finally satisfied with the effect.
As I sat there, I realized that I had not only mustered the energy to finish a project begun years ago, but also to set up my kitchen windowsill decorations, sort through several boxes, donate unused light strings and various holiday knick knacks to Goodwill, and did some shopping. It had been a really productive day. What a gift!
I'm so thankful these days for the return of some of my energy. I know it won't last forever, I know that I can't count on having consistent energy-filled days, and I know what I will have to do to try to make it return after the effects of my B cell depletion therapy has worn off.
I had to stop and wonder: Are all those weeks spent recovering from my rituximab infusions worth these four or five months of energy that isn't close to being what my normal had been previously? Is the potential but yet to be determined long term risk of using rituximab worth these few months of a much paler version of my former vibrancy?
Yes. Yes, I think it's worth it. At least for now. These months may not bring me back to the Julia I was before Sjogren's syndrome, but it can bring me halfway. And I'm grateful for that.