I cry when I watch superhero films. Not because of the major fight scenes or the heroics or anything obvious. Instead, I cry because of where the superhero came from, the origin story. An ordinary kid from Queens becomes a community’s salvation. A weak yet ambitious dude from Brooklyn turns into one of the strongest avengers to save the world. Me? A diseased girl from The Bronx who transforms into a poet whose words mean something to someone. That is my story.
A genetic mutation is the permanent adjustment of the DNA sequence, such that the sequence differs from what is found in most people.
On September 10, 1963, The X-Men are introduced. A league of super people bound by their genetic difference, a band of mutants.
On December 18, 2013, my body introduces a permanent adjustment such that the sequence now differs from what my organs have known. My kidneys, two blushed mirrors in a dark room, each barely alive with chronic illness.
Storm makes her first appearance in 1975 on the fictional living island of Krakoa. She is a woman whose wrath can call down thunder and move clouds by her reckoning.
My disease makes its first appearance in Los Angeles. I am a woman whose stress can call lupus into her blood and move cells into a diagnosis.
Superpower hath no fury like a body attacking itself, like a hospital you cannot leave for thirty days, like your name needed for a kidney transplant. I remember where I was—the fit of the hospital gown. I remember the taste of death sour in my mouth and the chemotherapy flushed into my veins.
Wolverine makes his first appearance in 1974. He is a man who can unleash blades from his knuckles. A man who can regenerate, who can heal himself. His trademark claws and humble growl say, “Try me. I dare you.”
I am a woman who can unleash sickness from her gut, the one without a cure and still a bounty of love, still a victory worth releasing. My heart saying, “Try me. I will fight to stay alive.” I am a mutant, a Black girl whose joints are a museum, whose hair sometimes falls out, but who can still heal herself. I can show up today in character and force a smile from all my heartbreak. I can will a high-risk pregnancy from this worn vessel despite a doctor’s tale, despite how rare it is, despite walking under the same sun I am allergic to.
Jean Grey makes her first appearance in 1963. She is a woman born with the ability to read minds and move objects with her thoughts. In her storyline, Jean later becomes Phoenix, an omega-level mutant with god-like magic and a cosmos all her own, able to control life itself.
Before I was diagnosed, I was born with the ability to run in the opposite direction of everything I was worthy of. In my storyline, I later hold my name in a place where my love does not rot. The creek of stretch marks flood up my thighs, the inflammation in my knees, the fear that I may not be able to carry children… The disease I cannot rid, still god-like magic, able to control my life itself.
I see my disability as super-ability. I think of my lupus as Ironman’s heart, as Thor’s hammer. As Black Panther’s vibranium. Thank goodness for that story—the one where I am not sick but superhuman.
Friends, what is your superpower?Leave a Comment
God has blessed you with this super ability that through it all you are able to put this incurable disease into words that are so powerful! I can relate! Keep on fighting! Gods gotcha!💅🏾👍🏾🙏🏾
Sheena Pearce says
Wow that was beautiful and amazing! I thought of my son who has Noonan’s and his super power is that his heart has an amazing drum beat when pumping blood through his short but mighty limbs. He is small but fierce and full of life even when he looks tired.
May God continue to strengthen you through your journey with Lupus. I was diagnosed in 1985. The struggle, the ebbs and flows, the pain and exhaustion, it’s all real… we smile and show up in spite of it all. Yes, you are (we are) a Superhero!
N McG says
Thank you for those words. I have the superpower or gift of listening and assisting in mental health. This is my calling.