“Enter when you will, take what you need, leave something of yourself when you go”
I have a friend I met over a bottle of scotch in a Brandywine Valley bed & breakfast some odd years ago who travels constantly and widely, sending me bits and pieces of the world as he goes. Each picture contains a sense of mystery, or surprising humor, and/or most likely the bicycle he rode in on.
I forget where he said he shot this wide planked shack. It is intriguing, don’t you agree? The sun and scattered leaves promise it is a bright, brisk day, yet, I wonder what musty odor fills your nose when you poke your head through the door, what scurrying varmint lives in the corners, what fingers grab your ankle once you cross the threshold and the heavy door slowly shuts out the light, the long, strong boards slide through the door handle locking you inside…
… you go first…I am right behind you…
If you have seen it, you know.
Life does not end. It does not. No, it does not.
It peels away and moves beyond this body, those once treasured plans, these sweet, dear beloveds. Often not easily, nor willingly; sometimes not even completely, but eventually -when exhaustion prevails, organs fail, when all is ready, enough is said- the anchor lifts. And the soul’s strong sails spread on the wind, sailing, sailing with sad, exquisite relief.
…after sitting with my son-in-law, Brandon Gonzales, in his hospital room fighting the last hard fight as his liver fails, and his family’s heart breaks, my darling daughter, Juliana’s, life shatters, my grandtwins, Max and Ryan’s, futures reshape… today he answered my questions with only his eyes and a labored nod, agreeing this really is the shits…
Peace be with you all, my darlings…
March 19, 2017
when someone is sick
you get tired of it
really tired of it
tired of understanding
tired of the eggshells
tired of the positive, uplifting conversations
tired of the faux hope for tomorrow
tired of caring about it
completely resenting it
but then, of course,
you don’t really mean that
of course, you want them well
of course, you’re careful to only encourage
careful to think before you speak
careful to expect only the best
to say only the kindest words
to put that smile on your face when you say good morning
but what’s good about it?
What, you think you’re the only one who hates this? You think life is all about you and your blasted illness? You think YOU feel lousy…I’ve got news for you, Sucker,You need to Get up, Get going, Take a shower, Get out of the blasted hospital and Get back to your family who needs you more than that damned hospital bed and those nurses need you
I’m pissed at this whole stinking illness routine
GET WELL, OR DON’T…
JUST MAKE PROGRESS ONE WAY OR THE OTHER..DAMMIT
oh, I’m sorry… here’s to making it a good day… it’ll be a good one, you’re looking good, how ya feeling, were you able to eat, did they get y0u standing today, are you feeling any better, is there anything I can do for you, anything I can get you
oh, what of the clouds building over Mt. Evans…
here at the light on County Line at Quebec
the sky is clear
the sun is etching new lines ’round my eyes
and for this thirty seconds
nothing in the world is off kilter
…oh, quit your honking!
Excuse me, what are you saying?
he is not a candidate for hospice?
he is not in enough pain?
he is not sick enough?
did not someone tell him yesterday there was no hope?
that he will not live out the month?
and that is why you called hospice?
do you not see that is why he said to leave him alone?
refused to eat?
asked that his children not be allowed in?
do you not recall his brain injury causes him to misinterpret what you say?
did we not leave requests to call his wife if you have something to tell him?
did you forget that he will forget?
Excuse me, what?
you called for a consult for the liver transplant?
did you not do that last week?
and what else?
you are immediately transferring him to the transplant hospital?
so there is some hope?
or are you simply concerned we have finally had enough?
that we shall begin to question every word said?
every thing done?
will you even remember he and we were here?
Today she meets with hospice,
my darling heartbroken daughter,
to discuss how best to establish care
for her darling dying husband.
It is not the dead part I hate so much,
it is the impossibly hard work of dying.
This is the truth I have come to know:
people are not dead until they are dead,
and maybe not then.
You cannot talk over them, pretend they are not there.
You cannot plan without them, assume they don’t care.
They are here! They are here, and fully aware.
So quiet the panic as best as you can,
sit down, shut up, take hold of their hand.
Just at this moment it is not about you.
Cry if you must, wail and weep,
but sit there, and listen, and live in the moment,
while they are here living with you.
How can it be?
How can it be
that that thin, thin body
can hold four liters of fluid?
Four liters of fluid!
There is no room!
Certainly there is no room…
You see, it is not just the liver that petrifies,
but also the hearts of those watching,
praying for that one miracle,
one is all that is needed,
before his body
is too weak
Today they started the confirmation hearings for the next president’s cabinet… how the talking heads will smirk and opine, how the haters will smugly hold to their views, the fearful will shiver, the disgusted will huff…and some of us will continue to pray to all the powers of good in this universe, God Almighty Himself, to guide the hands and hearts, minds and mouths of these people duly elected to manage our country… It is time for cooler heads to prevail, for the noise to cease, and the listening to begin, lest we miss what we really need to hear…
All this talk of hope…hopelessness…how without hope, you have nothing…
I think it’s off base. Faith is what you must have. You can develop hope, if you have faith. Faith in God, the creation, the unseen. Faith in your fellowman, faith in yourself. Faith that the sun will rise at some point, and that it will shine and warm you.
We must have faith that despite all appearances, our country will continue, our freedoms will sustain us, our work will feed us, our efforts will reap rewards…
We must have faith in the principles that guide us, faith in our fathers and mothers before us, faith in our children after…faith that our doctors know what they’re doing, faith that our deaths somehow lead to life.
It is Faith that pulls us through when all hope is gone… and that’s how I see it…