Barnes & Noble is as familiar to me as my own home. to the right are rows of stationary and journals. they are displayed with great care. slowly browsing the glittery covers, the leather-bound, some spiral bound, as much variety as the seekers could want. so what does it say about me that i choose one made of plain brown recycled paper? it feels like a good fit to me. my life is sort of plain and recycled. being plain affords me the opportunity to observe without alarming the beauty around me. while some gain energy from the attention or spotlight it has always been the opposite for me. hearing other’s stories, watching other’s lives unfold, even in my last days this is what transports me, perhaps it is what holds me here.
as reverent as a true believer entering church and expecting a miracle, it begins. a young girl on her cell phone, speaking a bit too loud, seeming to invite all present to witness her one-sided play. she will not be attending the prom with that cheap blah blah blah…. wandering off to share with other’s her continuing tirade. her conversation is punctuated with laughter easily mistaken for a bad laugh track, a bit too loud and forced.
laughter from a young couple leads me down the sci-fi aisle. there are giggles shared in these early moments of love. the private jokes, the teasing. “promise if i buy this book i am not going to hate it.” ” i swear you are going to love it.” they glance at each other and move closer…. then like frightened gazelles realizing they are not alone, dance over to another aisle. my breath has caught in the memory and the beauty of those first love moments. our own first kiss at the Tower Book store. one kiss and we were on our way to many more. it surprises and pleases me that you still remember that day, that kiss, as i do.
unkind words, muttered by a man leaving the christian book section, as he crosses the path of the young couple as they encircle arms to protect each other from the homophobic assault. sad in this intrusion on civility, our sanctum has been breached. they are already at the astrology section and laughing again. they are leaning into each other, i am grateful to have witnessed this moment. my own love is just around the corner in the history section, he shares a tidbit and then a stolen kiss. although all my kisses are freely given to this man. this man who loves books, would never say an unkind word in judgement of others.
i am an observer. this has been one of my joys. we recently visited family in oklahoma and it was a chance to hear the stories and see my love as he is with those who have been a part of his life before. next month we will be in charleston and the bahamas family will be there. it is another opportunity to make memories and to remember how delight can rush through your whole being at moments like these.
too many don’t observe their own body and what it is telling them. even in my desire to observe others i continue to observe my own state of being. he was watching and waiting to see if we could really make this journey. it was “not advised” that i fly anymore and though my habit is to take life as it comes it would be foolish not to listen to my body. as mentioned in previous blogs meditation has been of great benefit to me. listening and controlling my breathing, remaining calm as it becomes harder to breathe, this helps me for the short flight. holding his hand, looking at that face, this helps me.
just wanted to share with anyone who has concerns about traveling by air with the defib. we arrived earlier than advised ready for delays due to the defib. card in hand identifying that i do indeed have a defib and ready for a wait followed by the pat-down. this would be my least favorite choice for going through security. as it turned out the TSA agents were well versed in the do’s and dont’s so it was handled with amazing ease. after emptying pockets, putting bag in bin along with shoes, i was given the choice of the pat-down and the walk through x-ray. no brainer for me! walk into machine that looks like the push through at classy hotels and one of my favorite things. raise hands to head level and about 5 seconds later i was on my way. the agents also diverted a few people to go behind me and it made my feel less conspicuous.
all in all it was a pleasant experience. assistance was there with a smile and i did accept the ride in the wheelchair. at no point did i feel like a burden to anyone and that was of concern to me. one thing about this experience has been to learn about myself and how i move through the world. it has always been my goal to move with the least disruption to those around me. for someone who has jumped out of planes, fell off a cliff in defense of fellow soldiers, raised to be as inconspicuous as possible, this has been a challenge and an opportunity to be a better human being and learn how to move in a different way.
a year? really? another year has gone by and I am still here? how is that even possible? that is a bit like asking how a magician has been able to trick us into believing the impossible. when we ask do we really want to know? do we want to spoil the illusion? magic has been a delight and a fascination that inspires me to believe the impossible is indeed possible. learning the mechanics of such a feat has never interested me. this is rare indeed for me as I am fascinated by all things with desire to understand puzzles of all sorts.
last year it seemed improbable if not impossible to consider living another year. yet here I am and while I am so grateful for this time it concerns me what this means for my family. how is it for them to go from a time of emotional lows such as then to the highs of today? is it damaging to them? there are times i become frustrated and think if this is end stage and most agree this is the time to have the those final arrangements in line then what am i waiting for? sometimes the waiting is so much more stressful than expected.
the mother is dying. this is giving me a look at the stress my illness may have brought to my own family. youngest sister wants to make it all as perfect for her mother as possible. she waivers from wanting to do it all to wanting to turn her back on the whole dysfunctional fiasco that is called the sacramento family. she has carefully woven this beautiful flowing life of friends, work and love. much as i have done here in georgia. we were the lucky ones, we escaped. now and then we feel the tendrils trying to pull us back in as they wrap around us and pull ever so gently and when that doesn’t work, not so gently. do i want my own beloved family to go through this? never! am i doing everything i can for them? is the more to do? how to ask?
the family that has become my own knows how much i love them all. is love enough to protect them from the road ahead? it is love that will give us all the strength to get through this. the last few days much has been discussed, what to do about the problems in sacramento, what to do for my birthday and the pain of being the one left behind. some if not many would be surprised at the one big fear i have and acknowledge. it would be my worst fear come true if somehow husband went first. although he becomes dewy-eyed when speaking of being left without me it is i who can not even think what life would be without him. it may seemed obvious to some that with 20 yrs head start on me that the future was laid out. we have always known this was not going to be. when we first met I had my second heart attack and he was at my side throughout the whole ordeal. for several months it was trips to the emergency room with dr’s trying to prevent the inevitable and then it struck. while in one of my graduate classes it struck. waiting until the class was over and then going to the er. being admitted and staying at UC Davis hospital while tests were being run. he was there through the whole thing. he was there when the drs said it was sad to see someone so young dying and so little to do about it. we knew it was not if but when. as the years went by we thought somehow it wouldn’t be true. yet we always knew it was right there just waiting for us. he will be sad but he will go on. he has his family to love him and help him move forward. it has to be this way and i am not sorry for that. there are few things in this world i would be afraid of and being here without him is number one. whenever it comes i will be grateful it is me first. if only i can find a way to make this as easy as possible on those i love.
for today i am just going to be grateful for another year. another day, another hour another smile from that face i love. beautiful roses from my love
as we were leaving costco, husband had gone to get car ready for the year supply of paper goods and such, robert ( the exit man) asked if I was ok. I was walking very slowly which is the speed I do just about everything at now. when I said, I had not been injured he looked at me as though waiting for the answer to his unspoken question.
being regulars at costco we have gotten on a first name basis with many of the staff there. one woman even advised us on the ring for valentine day. she was right by the way and it was his first choice too so it had to be right. robert’s wife was laid up for a period of time with surgery. we would ask about her and got regular reports on her progress.
so it seemed natural for him to ask about my own status. with little ado i told him i have congestive heart failure. it was so simple to say the words and yet it has taken me some years to share this with anyone other than family and close friends. it can change how people relate to you once they know. some just don’t know what to say so they avoid you, some think you are not really that ill and make remarks to let you know that is what they think, so i avoid them:) robert looked sad when i told him and in my attempt to make things better i added that i have a defib to start me back up if i stop ticking. meaning it as a bit of reassurance. with a clear look right in my eyes he said “yes they can do almost anything now. the question is do you want it to be started?” yes he said it. inside i wanted to thank him. he said the one thing that no one else wants to say or maybe they just don’t get that part of this. he is a kind man and it came from his heart.
i had to go to costco, to hear what i thought no one understood. for the past several days i have been so sick i couldn’t have told you what day it is. the whole weekend i ran fever and my back hurt from my kidneys. the pain from my liver was almost unbearable. do i want it to be started if it stops? that is a great question. it is one that i think i know the answer to but wonder if we ever really know the truth until the time comes. we often think we know who we are and how we would handle something. then we are tested and either find we were right or we come up short. some of the hardest words i ever spoke were when my grandmother was dying and as i left the room she looked at me and seemed to be asking even pleading with me, so i said the words ” it’s okay mama. you can go and i will be ok. i love you always.” there is not one day that goes by that i do not remember her or the way she nodded and closed her eyes for the last time.
it is my hope that you can do that for me when the time comes.