Monday, July 31, 2017

#42, July 31, 2015, Alive

This is the next in the series of transcriptions from my journal, written during the wonderful sad last year of Dave's life.

Woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. 

I feel all my bones and the muscles attached to them, my flesh working still, almost strong. I feel all the hungers still and the pleasure of their satisfaction. 

A time will come when there’s no more room for hungers—I know that from being sick even that short time—when pain and trouble of body take up all the room living gives them. But that time is not now. Not for me. Not yet.

Dave is well on his way there—he’s good at not pining over what he does not have, but I remember what he has done for me.

I remember with gratitude that he has let me use him for more than 30 years as a substitute for loving. He let me stir up his intensity and use it as a launching pad for my own until now even the memory---the senses of it, all its touch and smell and taste—is enough to touch off my own.

I am still living even as he is learning how to die.

A breeze stirs the curtains this early morning. I hear a dove. The air brings a slight chill.
I feel alive.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

#41, July 30, 2015, The Beat of his Heart

This is the next in the series of transcriptions from my journal, written during the sad, wonderful, las year of Dave's life. 

And I thought yesterday’s doc appointment would be routine.
Though Dave’s kidney function and indeed every other so far measured system seems stable, he continues to fail. He lost another five pounds and is weaker than before. This doc suggested some kind of heart pump weakness—his heart, which every other doc said worked strong still—and his EKG’s show that. But it turns out that a heart’s electrical beat doesn’t measure its ability to pump, or the efficiency of its valves, or a possible blockage of artery. And it would make sense of his shifting blood pressures and his general weakness.

But to think that his heart, that obedient and faithful muscle, would just slow and tire, then finally just stop—I can’t imagine such a betrayal. I hear it like a dirge just running out of strength and quitting.

Everything in me screams, NO.


Friday, July 28, 2017

#40, July 28, 2015, Slow Leak

This is the next in the series of transcription from my journal, written during the wonderful, sad, last year of Dave's life.

I feel myself getting bitter sometimes, a bitterness that steps into the place of disappointed love, of life that has failed. It is the weight of what has passed me by, the pressure of the dissatisfaction that remains the stark necessity of breaths I take in the absence of hope.

I don’t see the purpose in these days. I have to rest to get better and Dave presses me relentlessly to sit down but for all those moments of rest, my life leaks out slowly and without remarking. 

I rail not against the night, but against a porous fog that absorbs all moments and returns no feeling, allows neither elation nor despair. I have no patience for this. I do not aim to. 

So little life remains and I am forced to spend what there is like this.

Image: St. Paul Faucet Repair

Thursday, July 27, 2017

#39, July 27, 2015 So Big

This is the next in the series of transcriptions from my journal, written during the wonderful, sad, last year of Dave's life.
I am starting to understand that most people don’t care about the same things I do. 

I want to know reasons for things—why life rolls out the way it does. I want to recognize and understand whatever firm ground life can offer. But a lot of people, most people, are satisfied by coping with whatever circumstances come and to wreak out some enjoyment from them. 

Enjoyment is not enough for me. I want understanding and realization of beauty, and the touch of joy. I want to exult, knowing that the exultation comes from God. Life, as good as it is, is not enough. I don’t want just to have it. I want to participate in its glory. 

And I’m convinced that’s possible. There have been too many times where the glory’s been close, so close and I could just fall into it.

This is the way I love God. You, Oh Lord, are the only unfailing connection to glory.

I went outside yesterday and felt the close rays of summer heat. I breathed in and felt the sun come in, like sliding into a bath surrounded by the smell and sight of flowers. Lush.

I am always comfortable in the house now—it is always 72 degrees because otherwise Dave can’t breathe. And I’m glad for it. I rest and sleep easily. 

But life waits beyond the windows—the feel of sun on my back and on my face when I look up. 

Dave doesn’t like open expanses. He wants to be surrounded by trees. Give me wind and sun and the feel of wide oceans. Let me see the horizon from edge to edge uninterrupted. 

So Big.

Image: Shutterstock

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#38, July 25, 2015, Quicksand

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

 So, on top of all of this, I get sick, too. Whatever reserves Dave had, he has used them in taking me to the hospital in the middle of the night and sitting with me there. And I have Lyme’s, an illness of lingering pain and confinement. 

People came to care for us for awhile. I can’t drive. I improve slowly. He improves hardly at all. 

I am more than marginalized. I feel forgotten. I do not function except at a very low level. My spirit is deflated. I feel frustrated at every turn. I don’t want too many people around, but feel abandoned when they are not. Almost nothing gets done. 

This is the oddest desert that has ever swallowed me. It is quicksand. My strength has fled.

Image: BuzzFeed

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#34, July 8, 2015, From Whence Strength Comes

This is another transcription from the journal I kept during that last sad, wonderful year of Dave's life. It got lost in the order, however, the situation and feelings it describes still fit.

Today’s canticle: “It is not by strength that one prevails.” That is surely true of these times.

I watch Dave sinking every day, getting weaker and more tired, the light slowly draining from him and I feel like someone is scooping out my innards with a spoon. I can’t imagine a world without him in it.

I don’t even know why I’m crying. Feeling sorry for myself, for all we planned and will not have, for his pain and bone weariness.

He was so tired yesterday. Took him for a ride, but had little pleasure in it.

It feels like this will be his last summer, the last times he will feel a warm breeze or see green hills. I want to fill him up with it, but some days he just can’t.

And there is nothing to do for it. My own body does not betray me as it does him and I am thankful for that—I can walk through all the days and get everything done but it’s not a physical strength that makes it possible. It’s something else—the life force I still don’t understand—it’s a river of the Lord that runs through bearing me up with it, carrying me along without ability or consent. It takes me unwillingly where I must go. I move my arms and legs. I gasp and shout, but the impetus comes from without. I am surviving but do not like this one bit.


Friday, July 14, 2017

#37, July 14, 2015, Another Respite

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.
What kind of respite is this?
Is it a time like the last one, in which Dave showed signs of life and hope, only to collapse into months of weakness? It seems so. But even if it is only a breath of relief for us both, it is still that. Breath. And we are enjoying it. Rides that bring real enjoyment of the beauty of this verdant world along with the spirit of adventure that has so marked our lives together.

And today he has planned another—an actual day trip I did not think we would ever do again.

The canticles I read every morning provide melodic backdrop to all of this, too. Related experiences full of love and fear and rescue and faith. Reminders of God’s constant awareness and over-arching care. Whatever happens, I do not need to fear.

Image: Pixabay

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#36, July 12, 2015, Finding the Plateau

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

May and June flew by, but this month dallies. Last week and this coming week are stunningly free on engagements and I revel in them.

Last week, Dave was almost sullen—weak and tired and without smiles. Then on Friday, after the rehab gals sent him to the ER again, he perked up. Something stabilized, even before they did anything or gave him the fluids they eventually gave him. After we left the ER, we went shopping at the co-op and to a fish fry in which he ate all of his and some of mine. He was good, very good, and remains so through Saturday and into today.

And what do I do? I keep wondering whether these are his last good days. There is no relaxing into them. It feels like a long, slow descent punctuated by the occasional sunny plateau that provides a bit of rest. I am doing this very badly, but I don’t know what else to do.

Live each day? I live, but am still not loving except with whatever steadfast care I can bring. This is the most confusing season.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

#35, July 9, 2015, All Tied Up

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

 I am tied to Dave’s health condition and attitude on any given day and don’t know how to get untied without loving less at the same time. I want to love him and empathize, but don’t know how to do it without sinking down with him on the days he feels so sick and discouraged. 

His illness is not a straight line. Some days, he smiles even in weakness and some he can barely raise his eyes above the rim of his dizziness and weakness. I can’t make any of it go away. I can’t protect him. I can, however, walk with him, witness to his weariness and discomfort. I can show him that I will be here no matter what even when we are both afraid.

So, yesterday, when Knute came over and asked me how Dave was doing, I just cried. He, Dave, was so discouraged, so weak and tired of being sick. Then later, he took a nap, went to rehab, and was better. That’s when I got it. The minute he felt better, I did too.

That’s OK up to a point, but doesn’t include much trust in God. Somehow, it has to be possible to enter completely in while still trusting that God will be holding me. And He will. I know it. This is way past any of my own ability to lift myself out of it. I have to enter in, resting in God, and let Him hold me up.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#33, July 6, 2015, Pain

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

 If I allow myself to love, I am without defense. 

If I allow myself to love, I will be undone. 

I will faint and wail and know pain to my very core. I am starting to feel it already, in moments like hot lightening, like cruel killing explosions that blot out everything else but blinding pain. 

If I let myself love, I feel like I will not survive this.

Image: SCI Total Fitness

Monday, July 3, 2017

#32, July 3, 2105, Smelling Breakfast

Sitting in bed thinking about what it was like at Kathy's to smell breakfast cooking before I got up—the luxury of someone else doing something warm and delicious while I lay in, snug and still. I never thought that there would ever come a place when I would yearn for that—someone to take care of me in that distant intimacy. Now, if it comes ever again, it will undoubtedly be in some nursing home where I’ll have to share a room with another old lady, undoubtedly someone who snores and farts like an old dog. I like this better, I think.

Today is full of have-tos: cats, breakfast for Dave, Knute, and Bryan (my fault—it’s the only thing I know how to do and Bryan asked for biscuits and gravy), Dave to PT, some kind of supper. As easy as these are, I am not mustering any want-tos.

Instead, these days are perfect—sunny and 70’s. I want to be in this day. Maybe I’ll pick some of the easy blackcaps and make something sweet with them.

Trying to reach for something I want to, not what I have to, and can’t quite get my hand around it. But then, Dave must be sick, Bryan must be alone, Jean must drive to see us, Audrey must wake up without John again. The musts form life, I guess. The wants are only frosting. They’ll make me sick if I have too much.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

#31, June 30, 2015, The Breathing

The last day of June. Cool nights, warm days. Gentle. Beautiful.

Just spent a couple of days at Kathy’s in Milwaukee and on the first morning, fell on my knees in gratitude without completely knowing why. But it had something to do with the lifting of illness and of worry and of responsibility while knowing Dave was safe. And as I lay in bed yesterday, listening to him cough—he coughs so much now—I think about how he gets no break from it. I have the physical care of him, but he has the disease. He never gets to take a free, unburdened breath.

This is what I want—to find the beauty among all of this—the promise and the poem. It has to be here somewhere. Breath is not life, but in the breathing, in the beating of our hearts, life rises.

Image: from Motor Impairment