Her head hung over a bucket.
She had felt fine most of the day, but you never know where the moment will bring you with a disease like mitochondrial disease. Tonight, it brought her straight to the comforts of her bed grasping tightly to a bucket hoping for some relief from the sudden wave of nausea and stomach pain that had just come over her.
Her eyes began to water slightly, causing the surface of them to become glasslike; opening up like a window to the heart of her pain, but also mirroring what it was like to watch her be in it. I tucked her hair gingerly behind her ear. "How are you feeling?"
"Good." She writhed in her bed a little, wincing.
"Are you sure?"
She took a moment, swallowed hard and took a deep breath, "yes."
I rubbed her back smoothing out the wrinkles in her cotton shirt and again tucked the hair behind her ear that had slipped into her face. Buying time while trying to choose my next set of words, I carefully adjusted her nasal cannula and fluffed her pillow. "You know," I said, softly rubbing the top of her foot, "we can tell when you aren't well. It is ok to admit how cruddy you feel. No one is expecting you to be a superhero."
She looked up for a moment. "How can you tell?"
"I can feel it in my heart, but I can also see it in your eyes."
She sighed gently. After a few moments she lied down, keeping her bucket close to her side. I pulled the covers up to her chin and gently kissed her forehead, readjusting all of the things I had already adjusted just one last time. I turned out her light and walked slowly away.
"Yes?" I whispered.
"That's how I can tell too, you know, how sick I am. I can see it in your eyes."