Saturday, May 26, 2007

12 hours

Twelve hours stretch before me until I have to be anywhere. And the anywhere is a birthday party of a real friend and I can walk to it. She and I share these things: literature, marriage, miscarriage and medical school. Only she is the student and I am a the wife-of the medical student.
But twelve hours!

What to do with such luxury?

I can clean the house--a desperate need, a noble act and a sensible one. Soon we might have visitors and they should have a clean place to sit, to sleep, to stare or speak.

I can lie in my bed until I finish this book--a riveting read (though Justin would say it's like all good books I start; I disappear into them, I'll carry them with me, read at every chance possible: walking anywhere, while cooking, while brushing my teeth, during dinner if that were allowed... (sometimes at stop lights--shhhh! don't tell!)). It's a book I've had for sometime but couldn't get into because it was too painful and graphic and horrifying--it's Alice Sebold's Lucky--a description of her rape and recovery and prosecution of the rapist. True story I wish she had published in 1991, but books about that didn't exist back then. Eight years later--1999--she published it. June 1981 her life changed forever. I can read it now because I need to sink into someone else's horror story; it steals me away from the one we know to well. It is my escape, just as it is her release.

Anyway, today I have the luxury of time and silence. There's enough food in the house that I might even get away without talking to or seeing anyone the whole time. But I know the phone will ring. It'll be Justin. Or I'll call my mom. But I'd like to go 12 hours without talking about hospice or death or dying, if I have to talk at all. Perhaps I'll go to the Garden and drink coffee and read curled up in one of their rocking reclining chairs and drink mocha. But in its Cheers-like fashion its my social living room; not an anonymous Starbucks mega-coffee shop.

Twelve hours just mine.

I will take care of no one else.

And then on Tuesday, I'll be at the hospice meeting at Mark and Toni's house. Justin said I was helpful in the first meeting, the one at the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). That was a break through in our experience--I'm in. He knows he needs me to coordinate this life; that the real insiders are too stuck, that their words if they have them are trapped by paralyzed vocal cords that would crack with grief and truth if they had to speak alone. Plus I've watched this mad-drain swirling for six years and I know what new outsiders need to know to pull Toni through to the end in the midst of Laura's incessant chatter of unknown bands she calls famous and photographs for free, and Dorothy' s broken heart and amplifier-hearing-aide and need to help though she also needs her oxygen.

I just need other people to deal with any secretions. I'm not good with secretions. I'm the words woman. At church, at work, everywhere else I am the Queen of Hugs--even for the puppies. But in that house with this family all I have to give is words and photographs.

Somehow, that will have to be enough.

But these, these are my 12 hours, and I will take them as they come. Too soon they'll be gone.

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