Jesika’s Last Gift (May 29, 2009)

I am getting really good at finding disturbing pictures to put up on this thing, aren’t I? I know it’s been awhile since Jen and I engaged in a “My End or Yours?” debate, and frankly we all miss Jen’s individual posts. Jon and Kate have been up to nothing but trouble since this rant, and I for one would like an update. But Jen’s plate is full so all you get is me! Nah!

A few days after Jesika passed away, I had one of many emotional phone calls with Kevin, and we were talking about the Herculean task he had to endure of sorting through some of his and Jesika’s old things. In the process, he discovered the remainder of a gift certificate he had given Jesika late last year. It was redeemable at this rather posh spa in the West Loop, on Jackson Street. During our conversation, Kevin said he wanted me to have the certificate, and to make sure I used it.

Initially, I felt morbid, maybe even amoral taking it, as if I were somehow profiting from the death of someone I missed so much. But Kevin wisely told me not to be silly. He assured me it would be a shame to waste, and that he certainly wasn’t going to use it. Now I think Jen and I have told y’all before that we love spa treatments. So after the idea settled, I started to like it. Jesika’s final gift to me.

And it was her final gift in so many ways. One more chance to have a heavenly giggle at Boop for example. I signed up for an aromatherapy oil shoulder, neck and back massage – thirty minutes. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Um, did someone switch my masseuse with an angry chiropractor? Because the harmless small Asian fellow who guided me to the soft, warm massage table bore no resemblance to the relentless torturer who attempted to crack my chakras right along with my ribs for the next 30 minutes. Now granted, I was very sore from my latest kettle bell circuit with trainer Rob the day before. I had also just come from my Friday Pilates class. I am pretty tightly wound to begin with, but all the more so in the last month. The tremendous uncertainty in my world apparently has my muscles locked up tighter than Fort Knox. And Daniel the masseuse had the wince-inducing key.

There were quite seriously a few moments when I considered asking him to cease the massage altogether. It hurt that badly. Trust me, if I were keeping any military secrets, Daniel the masochistic masseuse would have wrenched them sucessfully. I have had a few trips to the table before, and they felt nothing like this. But then a funny thing began to happen. When he would finish pulverizing and, literally, readjusting a particular muscle group, I felt better than I had in a long while – much better in fact. I started to ease into it, gritting my teeth (or grinding my braces) and willing the pain.

At the end, my sensai told me I was a “tough cookie,” and that it took him only 30 minutes to break my strained-to-snapping-point neck, shoulder and back muscles. He said folks in similiar conditions usually need 45 minutes or longer to let go. He asked me if anything particularly stressful was happening in my life. Well sir, you may be a ligament magician, but I already have a therapist. He served me a nice plate of fresh fruit and a glass of water, even chatted with me while I imbibed. Then I paid the bill and left.

Does this story, from beginning to end, strike anybody but me as odd? As I said, I have had massages before, but besides the initial squirms of pain, I can’t say there was anything offensive about it, per say. It was just…weird. And therein lies my old friend Jesika. She would have throughly enjoyed every bit of having contributed to such an odd, yet satisfying encounter. Thank you Jesika for sending me a painful, bizarre, but quite humorous life episode, and for giving me something else to write about today. I still wish you were here. I always will.

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