A Tale of Five Days (And Beyond … )

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Friday

When I finally settle into the stiff, vinyl recliner and shut my eyes I see eagles soaring. The detail of the wings, batting like thick, brown lashes. The sky is blue-blue with just a whisper of clouds. I’m learning their sounds as they perch high above in the thin tangle of branches.

Then it is the crows in the crisp night sky. Thousands and thousands in ceremony as they prepare for sleep. I hear their calls and walk alongside their gathering as they flutter off to this tree and that. Quietly they settle in, families and community sharing this dance in the dark.

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Then I am brought back to reality as I hear the labored breathing. Air is catching in the throat and then a grunt as if the pain has taken hold. The first fifteen times I hear it, I jump out of my chair, startled. Then I mostly settle into the broken rhythm of this night.

The unexpected call. The trip to the hospital. She’s so frail in that bed. She’s like the littlest bird, a swallow maybe. Or a marsh wren. Her agitated earlier state has been arrested. She never said my name, though she was begging someone, anyone, to free her of this place. “Thank you very much. Goodbye, please” is the mantra. I don’t know if she knows me or remembers me in this flickering light of astronomical twilight.

But I know .
And I remember her.

Saturday

It’s hard to know what is happening now. There are the startled awakenings lasting only a moment, followed by a breathing so light you wonder if her lungs are doing any work at all. The gasp that follows the silence is alarming. I watch as her lips seem to form words as if in conversation. Maybe memory is flooding the airways and George is nearby …

I imagine the vison of them flying in their small plane as Mt St Helens erupted and watching the plume rising in the distance. Not many were in the airspace that day and she remembered it like it was yesterday. Or maybe it was that submarine trip or snowmobiling in the fresh, new snow as powder fell in beautiful chaos all around.

Whatever it is, something is gurgling and bubbling up to the surface. Sometimes healing is silent and sometimes healing is a tug and a pull and a blistering jolt. It is hard to know right now what is happening inside; which parts are stretching and which are relaxing into their recovery. I watch her and I hope she knows George is with her. I can feel his energy swirling in this room. I hope when she reaches out her hand that she finds his. She doesn’t have to do this alone. She’s surrounded by angels and a loyal band of friends.

Bless the helpers.

Sunday

It is the kind of morning where I could use more sleep but my body can’t stay in bed. As much as I’d like to linger I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Between yoga, my full day of hiking and my night on a stiff recliner, I can hardly imagine getting up, let alone making the bed. But I do both and sitting upright on the couch has at least shifted the discomfort. Grateful this morning for a hot bath and the promise of relief.

The spring on the garage snapped yesterday. Grateful for a kind neighbor who helped get it lifted and allowed us to get my car out. It’s just five years old. They don’t build things like they used to, solid and of the kind of quality designed to last. It seems everything has a shorter life and I’m sure there is a metaphor here that I am missing.

We’ll head back to the hospital after the garage door spring has been replaced. Praying that my friend found restful sleep overnight and that her body is beginning the daunting task of repairing itself. It’s a tall order. I hope to see the twinkle return to her eyes but I am keenly aware that everything is out of my hands. We’ll just load up on white light and prayers and do the next indicated thing. I suppose that rule applies for every day. And so we go.

Onward through the fog …

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Monday

So I have this rock. I know I should be a better steward and not pocket these tiny treasures, but Friday, this one spoke to me. At first glance I fell in love. It looked like Sassy … can you see her ? Then I held it in my hand and the smooth surface was a comfort to hold. Remember worry stones ? It was like that. I tucked it into my pocket without hesitation.

Truth is, when I hike I always pick up a stone to carry as I wander. I usually release it before I leave, but sometimes it is like a touchstone for a place and all the rules go out the window. It connects me. It grounds me. It almost becomes a part of me.

Today, (many times) I reached into my pocket to find this water-worn stone and I swear it calmed me. In a way hard to really explain, I have chaos in my soul as my friend slips away from all that she knows. Is it because I know it could be me someday ? Is it because life is really a fragile shell and when it starts to crack it can be confusing and startling ?

I don’t know. I only know that this gray stone, with its squirrely lines and soft finish, helped me stay in my own clear center today when my every instinct was to fall away. Someday I’ll take it back to the shore of Bowman Bay. Until then, I’ll let it carry my worry and settle my spinning mind. A blessing of nature.

Tuesday

This is the first morning in a while I have wanted to stay in bed. As hard as it can be to stay lying down some mornings, I would have picked it today.

My friend is improving. Yesterday was a turning point and I hope to see that trend continuing into this new day. It is a complex story of recovery that is not entirely mine to tell, but I feel like I am one of the moving parts as the gears begin to grind again.

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Lord Byron once wrote: “I am ashes where once I was fire …” I can’t seem to escape the truth of that. It seems to apply in so many ways. I am trying to keep an emphasis in my own mind on the fire piece. Without a bright blazing flame there is no ash. The metaphor seems stronger for my friend today but it is true for many of us. We must be grateful for the moments when our lives roared and the flames shot high into the sky. White-hot heat. Invincible.

I am sad to think that soon, a decision will be made that will alter the life course of my dear friend. I will not be a part of that decision. My role will shift from keeper of the flame, to tender of the ash. There are beautiful things in those burning embers. My job will now be to swirl that burning ash and make of it the only thing I really can. A story. Her story, all the while reminding her of that wild flame, that had been burning as a twin to George’s.

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Last year I walked a favorite trail of mine that had been devastated by fire two years earlier. In the spring, through the burnt, barren, scorched earth, came life. And not just a stray flower here and there, but an abundance of life. It was almost surreal but it is helping me this morning to frame this new metaphor. Maybe Byron needed one more line ..

Sigh. It’s time to get moving. Even as my body and heart resist, my braen is charging up to drive this rickety bus into “the next”. Please send prayers. And white light. And chocolate.

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Story continues in the comments … ♡

Thank you for sharing this.