Sunday, January 1, 2017
For the Moms of Lady Shasta and Three Little Pugs - Both Dealing with Serious Illness
— Sigfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command (1948)
December saw the city and most of the surrounding small towns come to a grinding halt. Wind chills in the minus 30's and heavy, drifting and blowing snow resulted in a suspension of travel within parts of the city except for emergency vehicles and those seeking shelter. Out in the small towns, there was little movement, but there are those hardy souls that won't let frostbite and politicians tell them what to do.
I had the blinds and what curtains we have, closed against the cold. Since the house is atop a walk out basement with windows above the ground level, the huge windows on the south side of the house that look out onto the Spruce trees only have some antique lace toppers, making for a lovely view but not maintaining the home's warmth. Even with the little heater next to the desk, the chill eddy of cold licks in at my skin, as I go to get a warmer sweater and some thicker wool socks.
One needs to be prepared for such things. A few days ago it was in the upper 50's, before plunging again, another sleight of hand from the greatest of magicians, Mother Nature; Machiavellians stroke on the part of that foe, a new battle towards which it channels ancient wounds, inflicting its grievance upon the land. It will likely arrive to do battle when you least expect it, when the prolonged blow of the dark and ice sinks through the skull and lays its claim deep on the bones of the winter landscape. It will not be a day and night safe for man nor beast.
It's funny, I'm perfectly fine holing up at home for days with nothing but books, a kitchen, and some tools. But tell me I can't drive to the store or run to the library, and I suddenly get cabin fever, peering out the window every so often, like a bird from a cage that fidgets with feathered annoyance.
It's not the pain that bothered me, I've dealt with pain. It was being unable to run, to jump, to MOVE, quickly and without effort. It was crutches, then a cane, then just walking with a bit of a limp when the air pressure dropped and it felt as if knives poked at it. It was sliding back in time, back to when I wasn't confident in my physical abilities, when I was just a skinny, quiet little kid who was picked last for dodgeball, because frankly, I'd rather be inside reading a book that the teacher would think was inappropriate for someone my age.
It wasn't the pain, it wasn't an injury that in the grand scheme of things, wasn't very serious. I realized at this point that what is dire profundity to the very young, is usually just "been there done that" to those of us in middle age, which is still preferable to the six foot deep and eighteen foot square reality that faces us all eventually.
It's much as if seeing a beloved old building each and every day, an old church perhaps, the stones so study that time had not displaced it, could not ever displace it, not all of time could have. Then one day you drive past and it's simply gone, razed and replaced by a shabbily built storefront that won't withstand a good wind.
It's easy to throw a pity party, and I was on the verge on that later day I realized I was in a motorized scooter in WalMart, one place I swore I would never be. But in that same moment, as the young man that is now my husband, smiled down at me, his having been with me, his best friend, not even an official girlfriend yet, without fail since I got hurt, canceling his whole Christmas to drive me home and tend to me and my elderly dog, I realized all that I had. I also realized that putting the small end of the crutch out in front of me like a knight's lance, I could knock the Billy Bass out of the cart of the guy with no teeth. Oh, sorry, accident, really. SCORE!
Because of that, I know what is important. And that is all the endurance of which mind is capable, of which the flesh has appetite for. That has kept me going on nights when all I could do was sit and hold a small faded photo, eyes, tightly shut, as if the light was diminished by its own grief, leaving only a lone huddled shadow upon the wall, pale and fading. That has kept me going when fate swiped a paw at me and I swiped back, harder, EPR's steady, left hand tight on the yoke of my comrade-in-arms, with the swept back wing of an old combat jet, planting that aircraft on a piece of hard ground as small as my fear.