Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Not the time for tears

I have, for the most part, managed to keep my emotions under control through this wild ride, reminding myself that now is not the time to loose the flood of feeling that has been building up behind the eye, lest the blood cloud my vision and prevent me from caring for the rest of my world. Too much of me is needed for the care and comfort of others to dedicate my time completely to Lynda's care. Though I feel guilty for leaving, I know that I must separate myself from the fading flesh and maintain enough personal integrity to actually be of use to others. Allowing myself to wallow in, or at this moment, dally even momentarily in the warm bath that is self-pity is an indulgence that neither I nor my family can afford at the moment.

Not that I don't secretly yearn to fall on the floor and sob uncontrollably at the unfeeling inevitability of the universe, because indeed, that would really feel good for a while, but I am also sanguine enough to realize that such relief would only be temporary and worse, failure to resolve the conflict would only exacerbate the pain.

Such is the case with life itself, for as soon as we succumb to the temptation to be weak and afraid, fear and weakness are already constraining our ability to thrive and we need only continue to wail and rend our hair to realize the ironic fate we so hoped to avoid with our vocal and spiritual laments.

Today, however, I came uncomfortably close to the release of that suppressed emotive force, not because I wanted to finally enjoy a bit of the bittersweet fruit long dangling before my sore eyes, teasing my hurting throat with the promise of liquid relief, but because I was not vigilant to the insidious attack of a metaphor; a word whose meaning I had not expected to come from so deep and to mean so much without warning. But such is the nature of words in my brain; they hold more information than one can see from any single side, yet when turned around in my synapses, the meanings pile in on one another, multiplying and potentiating the power of sense until it has the blinding force of nuclear fission.

Suddenly without more than a second to contemplate the word, when told that Lynda was convinced that she was on a train and worried about when to get off, the entire force of a million-pound steel behemouth was routed directly to the center of my brain and hence to my half-frozen heart. I did not need the hospice nurse to explain the metaphor of the train, though she did so with great kindness; no, in fact, the many layered implications had already wound their way round and round my spinal column and had me wide-eyed, electric and defenseless against the flood of tears now held back so long I had surmised it might have leaked out the other side to pose no threat, but suddenly realized that it was no imaginary force bearing down on my defenses. The very real feelings of grief and loss that arrived in that moment were possesed of such incredible intertia as to sweep away any matchstick and paper card protection I may have managed to construct in the last year. I began to cry.

All gone, in less than a second as I walked to my car on this most gorgeous and cloudless early November day, so I called Stephen to tell him what a beautiful day it was and how much I enjoyed hearing his voice. He wasn't sure what to say, but it didn't matter, since all I need for the moment was to hear just the sound of human breathing, as if all I needed was to find the right sychnronous rythym and fall into resonance with it.

The tears were suppressed, the breathing brought under control, the vision directed upward to receive the gifts of light and the fragrance of fall that now surrounds us actually made me grateful for this development as the year winds to a close.

It has been more than a year now since we began, and for the first time I sense that the journey is almost at an end. We are not there yet, though it won't be long, there is still something left to be done, and the two of us will do it together, as we planned for so many years now. As I hold her hand, watching her fade in the rich late afternoon sun, it feels right, not just inevitable, and for this feeling I am most grateful.

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