Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Showing Up

The blog went dark for a few days, I know. A family friend is in the hospital in Wisconsin, the family needed some support, and I got in the car and showed up. I hope that what I did while I was with them was a help, but honestly, I think just showing up was really the key contribution.

The hospital was bustling, but intimate. It was public in the most human way, as nurses and doctors needed to know every banal detail about the patient's daily function, but it was so private, in that the moments shared seemed hard to describe adequately to those not present. Being there, I couldn't be in my own head, as there was both too much and too little going on, all at once, requiring all my attention.

During this time, I had so much to write about. The fragility of life. The strength of the spirit and of the body. The silly things that happen in the middle of the scary. The way a hospital is the busiest place in the world, with 20 people coming in and out within a matter of hours, all telling the patient, "You get some rest now." The difference getting a good meal or a good nap can make. The kindness of friends and family who jump in and do the things that need to be done, like pick your kid up from school or let you sleep on their spare bed, all so that you can help caregivers in the hospital have enough of a break to go brush their teeth, get dressed, or eat a meal. The way the first warmer day in four months makes everyone a little zippier, even when they are dealing with serious medical issues. How, for the staff of the hospital, everything is routine, but for the patients and their loved ones, everything in the world may be turned upside down; the juxtaposition of these two points of view, alone, could fill a book.

The thing is, when I pulled out my trusty wireless keyboard and tried to capture any of this, it was all cliché, all so trite, all jumbled into a muddled web of truisms that we say without really thinking. Just trying to capture any of my experience made me respect my favorite authors more, people who justly describe the holy and surreal moments of life, somehow pointing to resonant universal truth without a hint of common aphorism.

I'm home now, and I'm tired. Tired from driving, tired from daylight savings, but mostly, I'm tired from feeling. In true real-life fashion, while I was gone, our old dog got sick again, making my husband's job of holding down the fort more disgusting, and my job of reentry more complicated (as I sit on hold with the vet). A snowstorm is on deck for tonight, stopping the new springlike weather in its tracks, at least for a few days. Swimming lessons, disliked by the child but forced upon her by her parents who do now want to drown, resume tonight, with all of their tears of protest. A plumber is stopping by to fix the leak in our bathtub faucet, but I am still in my pajamas, as I don't have any clean clothes to put on until I get laundry done. Absolutely none of this is as important as what is happening in the hospital right now, so it all feels ridiculous.

I need to drink my coffee, rally, and just show up again, this time for the myself, my family, and for the mundane stuff that makes life chug along. If I could convince my brain to leave that sixth-floor hospital room, or my heart to leave my throat, where it has climbed up and lodged itself firmly, it would be easier. I'm just going to have to do my stuff, anyway, and hope the head and heart return soon.

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