Friday, March 8th, 2019

Rip Van Winkle

I have been Rip Van Winkling and I am just beginning to lift the corner of my blanket to see what goes on in the world now and in .

I know when I fell asleep. It was December 18thin 2018. I had just published a companion book to I PRAY ANYWAY: Devotions for the Ambivalent. It’s title is I Pray Anyway PLAYbook. Both books had begun to gain momentum. Then the holidays struck and I went limp determined to start a productive New Year. I viewed them as a hostile deterrent to my need to hide away with myself to figure out what creative vector I wanted to ride next. I was baby stepping into exploring where to put my energy. I scheduled a PLAYshop, set up times to talk with previous colleagues and was restless. 

January 7TH my husband had a heart attack followed three days later by  quadruple bypass surgery. Back under the covers away from the world and writing I went, into a kind of Never Never Land of profound domesticity and caretaking. In two days, we will visit the magic surgeon and emerge into a new reality getting on with life. I am not complaining. I am luxuriating. I have enjoyed this month long interlude. It has been healing (in literal and figurative ways) and sweet, sweet, sweet. 

When I was a single parent with two children age 4 and 18 months, I had no camera and no money to buy one. So when a lovely moment occurred, I would make an eyeglass by curling my fingers and looking thru them and say, “click-click”. It was my way of recording the event. It is amazing how those click-clicks took hold.  

Here are a few click-clicks from my month long interlude from emergency to emerging.

—Click-Click. David is hunched in pain and his face is gray.There is a moment when one knows that it is time to act. David has pain, then more pain and then more. I ask him to rate it, give him nitro-glycerin and an overdose of aspirin and call 911. 

I remember my heart attack when we didn’t call 911 out of pure hubris. Seven men in uniform enter the house and seem too many and too big for the room. Bags open, equipment comes out. David rides out on a gurney. I am surprised to see an Ambulance, a Firetruck and a Police car. A neighbor runs over to be with me. I know the routine and say I’ll stay and gather stuff for the hospital

—Then there is David in the hospital room, a single which he finagled with charm and the age card, In our family, hospital rooms are for partying, laughter and runs to the kitchen for graham crackers and Seven-Up which seem like manna. The room is crowded. All five adult kids are here, in and out. Friends poke in. David makes friends with all the hospital personnel, knows their lives, is doing counseling from his bed. We forget why we are together.

—A message pings on my phone.  It says “first incision” which is how they time  surgery. The kids and I camp out in a waiting room. Now it is real. We eat lunch in the cafeteris irritated by everything—where we have to sit, how bad the food is. There is a subtle power struggle among the kids about who knows more about hospitals and surgery. They are scared and not as adult as they thought. We go back to the campground and sit. And sit. No online games, no books, some knitting. We get a call from the surgery host and see one another’s eyes go scared. No. Surgery is over. 4;45 last suture. We head up to get a report. It’s a good one

—Click-click. We talk the surgery host (as we call him)  into letting all seven of us into see knocked out David. Not bad. Tongue hanging out a little. He is way unaware of us. We tell him we love him and then Megan and I wiggle our fingers in blessing. We leave. Kids head out to local barbecue place to talk about David and me. My ears burn. I head to bed.

—Click-Click. We are at Scales restaurant after a day of visiting David one at a time. My treat. Guess what? Intensive care is intense so we are euphoric as we leave. Glad to be gone. Wine glasses sparkle. Good will abounds. We are relieved about David and to know we actually love and like one another. All say we feel stronger and safer when we are together. It is a night to remember. Everyone does and will. We are family

—Click-Click. I am caring for my granddaughter for four nighs in a row. David is home. The house is subdued. I help David in and out of bed. I help Issa in and out of bed. I feed them.

I wait on them. I cook in a sunny kitchen looking out at New England weather. I make soup and soup and soup. I am content. I am having something I didn’t get to have enough of—homemaking. I remember my birth kids and our life before my former husband left. Quiet nap times. Baths. Daily routine of a household. I am caring for loved ones without distraction.

It heals my interrupted broken mother’s heart. 

—Click-Click.  January is gone. I am disoriented. Our Winter home in Mexico feels unreal, a dream. I think February school vacation and five bored kids whose friends were on exciting trips as I trudged to work leaving them unsupervised. I am thrown back into memories of trying so hard, making curtains for bedrooms in a conference room at work during lunch. I took a sewing machine to work. I relish the memories but not the inadequacies I felt. I smile and enjoy feeling adequate and unhurried with family as my sole concern.

—Click-Click The kitchen windows are dirty. We have three big cats that lounge like a harem. I want to kick them out. The furniture is rearranged for David’s walking. I am crabby. I don’t want to do all tasks on my own-compost, litter, groceries, picking up the house, guests, picking up the house, guests, David’s birthday, picking up the house. David is impatient. Fatigued and sick of limitation. We go to the doctor and the doctor and the doctor and are visited by a nurse.  We are sick of repeating and they are too. David walks, practices breathing, climbs stairs, eats, walks, practices breathing,  The interlude is ending. We are ready and miss it too. We laugh and say it’s been one of the easiest times of our marriage. 

—Click-Click. Here I sit at the computer, wondering if I remember how to write. I am a little stunned. Tomorrow I pay bills—for the January that wasn’t. Wondering if I dare doze again.

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