Giving Up Cake

It was no coincidence that I watched a movie called CAKE last night. *Spoiler alert*

I didn’t know much about the new movie before playing it on my laptop – other than it was about a woman (played by Jennifer Aniston) who struggles with chronic pain.cake2

I didn’t know that the main character, Claire, once worked as a lawyer; nor did I know that she’d been in accident.

I didn’t know that the opening scene shows Claire in a pain support group, and I had no clue that this scene revolves around the group’s discussion about the recent suicide of one of its members – a woman named Nina, who was also a close friend of Claire’s.

I didn’t know that Nina had jumped off the side of an elevated highway overpass, tumbling (intentionally) onto a truck, and her death.

cake1I didn’t know that early on in the movie, I would suddenly press pause, feeling the urge to reach through the screen while Claire – actually, Jennifer – is reclining in the tilted front passenger seat of a car, gazing up at trees and sky, shake her hard and yell out to her, the director and everyone else on the set: You see? Do you understand now what it’s like to NOT be able to sit up, to HAVE to lie back in a car? Even if you’re only in character, can you embody Claire’s role and story well enough to…GET it?

I didn’t know that I’d feel so much empathy, love and appreciation for the character playing Claire’s Mexican housekeeper, helper and driver – who seemed to understand; and who criticized her own daughter for not.

I didn’t know Claire would float in pools to relieve the pressure; that she’d search for sleep ad infinitum (surely for other reasons as well), or that she’d faint from pain and exhaustion on the bathroom floor.DSC02261

But this morning, when I awoke, I remembered one thing, that which matters most to me on this day. That I fell from a bridge six years ago and survived; that pain glommed onto me like a leech, and that – while gazing up at trees and sky – I’ve found ways to muddle through the dark.

Today, as I’ve done every 25th of January since I’ve been back on my feet, feeling blessed and grateful, I crossed a bridge.

And skipped the cake.

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