We’re buried inside on this snowy day. Winds blow thick tufts against my balcony door. Driving is a needless risk, walking past the mailbox a foolish notion. Super Tuesday primaries have settled enough to turn off the television and enjoy Leonard Cohen’s music, read a book, write a few words.
Years ago, when Rebeccah was a toddler, a similar snowstorm piled mountains of the stuff on our front lawn, covering sidewalks in five foot drifts and blockading streets. A Chicago mayor lost her job, disgraced by irate citizens for her delayed response to the blizzard. But for me, those few days remain a cherished memory. Time stopped. We had plenty of food, wine, books, each other. Quiet moments, safely inside. Respite.
I’ve recently emerged from a different kind of respite, one filled with fear and sadness. But being at this end reminds me that I can still surface, that I still have enough spirit left to carry me the distance.
Just a few days after I last posted, Steve slipped on ice from a similar storm, while walking our adored, twelve year old Shar Pei-Staffordshire Terrier, Emma. To avoid crushing her, he landed against the curb and ruptured his kidney. After 12 pints of blood and 10 days in intensive care, he came home to a slow recovery. While he improved, Emma deteriorated, first from arthritis and then from a neurological insult to her spine. Time slowed as I barricaded myself inside, carried Steve his dinner, helped Emma walk. No distractions existed apart from what was needed in the moment.
Three weeks later, Emma died. The next day, Steve returned to the hospital for yet another week with a pulmonary embolism. I found Pema Chodron’s book on my shelf, When Things Fall Apart, and managed to read a page a day. Once again, my days and evenings were spent at the hospital. Steve improved. I joined a friend for a coffee, squeezed in an hour at the health club. Two days earlier than expected, I brought Steve home.
Today, for the first time in two months, I’m writing a few words. I can talk about Emma without crying. Steve looks trim, having lost more than 50 pounds, and feels confident his health is improving. Freezing rain coats the road below my window. And so it goes.