Friday, November 4, 2011

Lines From the Front

Weird times continue. Waiting for a loved one to die is like living in a science fiction story; everything around me is familiar, but somehow changed. And someone with a very odd sense of reality is writing the scenes. It's as if every day were spent engulfed in an eerie orange glow. Or on a city floating in the sky. There are good people in the story, angelic beings proffering soothing ministrations; protective familiars trotting faithfully at your heel. They are among the legion of supporters of the benevolent King, lying on his deathbed. Yet there is an evil presence lurking in the background. You can't see or touch it, but something in the rhythm of the prose makes you stick your nose in the air and sniff nervously.

Nothing is as it was, but nothing has changed. Limbo. Perhaps you're stored cryogenically on an outer-space staging ship, floating in orbit, getting by on minimal power, life support systems only, waiting, waiting.

To add to the surreality, we had a freak 10 inches of wet, heavy snow here last weekend that took out power from a record 700,000 customers in Massachusetts alone. We were without power for almost five days. Living night and day in front of the fireplace, cooking in tiny camping pots over the flames. Remember how ready you were to go home after your last long camping trip, all rank, dank, and cold to the bone? Yeah. Like that, except already home.

My longest workout in the last month has lasted 27 minutes. My injuries and head-cold and a ton of busy-ness have kept me off the road. This has not helped mood. Tomorrow, I hope to go out and have a real adventure -- cover a shocking 12 or 15 miles. When I exercise, my quads turn to overheated oatmeal. They just disappear on me. I am not the man I was a month ago. Now I know why most of America refuses to start an exercise program. Working out when you're weak is one of the most unpleasant sensations available outside of a dentist's office. There's not one fun part of it until it's well over.

And yet none of this is a heartfelt complaint. More and more I feel like life just is what it is. Enjoy the pleasant stuff, don't run from the hard stuff. Be alive, be here. Blah, blah, blah: all that New Age stuff turns out to be annoyingly on target.

As for a Reward after it's all over, I know less about that than I ever have. There is nothing like watching a loved one go through extended suffering before he dies to winnow out the wheat from the chaff in your spiritual beliefs. The little bit of sturdy stuff stands after the rest has been whisked away like so many empty hulls on a stiff breeze. So what's the sturdy stuff, you ask? (Don't we all want to know that one?) For me, for today, it's summed up in my latest entry in a journal I've been keeping of my thoughts and feelings from the time of my Dad's diagnosis:
You can stop an organism, and if you don’t, it eventually winds down, like a watch that can no longer be wound. But you can not snuff out Life. I don’t know where it goes. I don’t know if it coheres as a “person” or “soul” once the organism stops. But I know that the Life in me, and the Life in Dad, will not die. Can not die.

It sure isn’t a lot. And it’s less than I used to think I knew, a whole lot less. But it’s a lot more than nothing, too.
 That's my postcard from the front today. Not cheery, but certainly not depressed. And that's saying quite a lot, considering.

Keep 'em turning.


Herringbone said...

Hi V,
Thanks for all your encouraging comments. Your journal entry was pretty incredible. I feel the emotion in your words. I don't know...take care.

Velosopher said...

Thanks, H-bone. I do appreciate that.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

You have managed to sift gold out of this muddy water you are wading through. It is an awful thing to live in such a raw state, but beauty comes out of it in your writing and observations. I suppose all great art is fueled by these moments in life when we have no skin and everything burns. I hope I can be so graceful the next time I am tested.

Velosopher said...

WB, your thoughts are received in my heart. Thank you.

BTW, feel free to use me as a role model, as long as I can keep using you as such. You've already shown a deuce of a lot of grace under pressure in the last couple years.