Last Friday I met Mary at the doctor's office. At 74 years old she's spent the last seven years battling an illness that at its most vicious point last year reduced her 120lb frame to a mere 69lbs.
A favorite in the clinic, she'd rescheduled an appointment and her doctor "a handsome Italian" (her words) had snuck her in. As her thank you, she'd brought him a cannoli from her local bakery. "He loves them" she said.
As we chatted on family and illness and rescued animals and heritage we laughed and commented that we were perfectly matched for conversation- two chatterboxes who because of our heritage (she Greek and I Scottish) and upbringing have an innate interest in storytelling and a little inherent nosiness.
As our conversation continued Mary kept returning to a familiar refrain focused on her health struggle and weight loss last year.
"I lost so much weight you know. Now I'm all bone [touching her clavicle]. Doctor told me to eat. I told him ' How can I eat when I can't swallow?' Doctor told me to drink cool water. I said ' How can I drink. I can't swallow.' He said I might die. Now if I can just put on some meat ..."
This refrain was repeated in pauses, inserted in shifts in the conversation. After an hour and the 6th repeat or so she giggled and remarked,"if I could take 10lbs from some of these folks here..they'd be happy and I'd be happy. And my doctor. Not from you though- you're good. From someone who doesn't need it. I always said I'd rather have more beef than bone [with a grin]."
More beef than bone. I liked that. I giggled with her in that waiting room thinking on how I've always liked women with a little curve. A little beef.
Reflecting now, I realize that this concept of beef and bone has been a paradox in my life. I desire in others a little beef. But for years for myself I've desired only bone. And that's led me in stages from boney to beefy and between.
Now, as I try strive for acceptance of myself and hope to nurture my self, I realize that I'm going to take on this beefy-bony paradigm. And while I don't know exactly how it will all unfold, my gut tells me that Mary's got something right. So now when I find myself admiring my boney clavicle, I'm going to pause and grin... but at the beef as well as the bone.