Imagine what it would feel like if your body became a trap. Your mind and your spirit are still strong, and you haven't changed a bit inside your head. You have the same urges, desires, ambitions, and beliefs you've always had, but now you can do nothing to follow through on or fulfill them. Because you've always been a realist, you can't deny the evidence that in spite of your mental health, you are dying and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
Making matters worse is the fact that you are an extremely creative and intelligent person with a vivid imagination. Not only has your body finally failed you; it has also become a burden inflicting continual pain. Morphine and Demerol offer the relief of escape, but who knows what tricks it may be playing on your brain when you surrender to the oblivion their embrace offers. As more and more medication is required to bring peace, the further you slip away from reality and the less your thoughts become your own.
As a child the great Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was stricken with polio, leaving one leg withered and weak. When she was a teenager, the trolley car she was riding in was involved in a collision that shattered her pelvis, broke her back, and left her impaled on a metal rod. After six months in hospital, she endured another year in a body cast while her spine mended.
It was during that year in bed that she first began to paint. As the only subject she had at hand was herself, she began her life's work of documenting and depicting herself in relation to the rest of the world. On some level, she must have known that her time was limited and made the decision to live as full a life as was possible for her. So when she found herself at the end of her time, stuck in bed, dependent upon family and drugs for succour, none of us can have any idea as to what affect it might have had on her ability to separate reality from illusion.
It is said that the creative and imaginative mind of the artist, combined with the heightened emotional sensitivity that is the invariable companion, is already a few steps closer to the edge of sanity than others. What would have gone through the mind of Frida Kahlo during those final months of her life while she lay waiting for death to come and give her final release from the prison her body had become? While we may never know for sure, Kate Braverman's novel The Incantation Of Frida K. is a fictionalized journey into those depths.