>It’s certainly a case of the februaries. Dark when I awaken, puffy grey skies above, overdried indoor air and moisture-laden outdoor fog, limited visibility all around. Then there is the rain-ice-rain-ice cycle we are enduring here along with news of weather-suffering all about–China to California.
I returned from my poetry workshop energized. Not sure if I have a publishable manuscript, but feeling more like a poet, less like a drudge. But where imagination is the currency and vehicle of the writer, weariness seems to be my coin, sliding on ice my transport. I can’t invent time or place. I sit idly at the computer when I should be shoveling snow and spreading salt; cross-hatch the ice on my walk with a hoe when I long to put pen to paper; type novel-worthy notes about my patients into a inhuman electronic medical record when I would rather be sharing stories with one over a cup of coffee. This morning I couldn’t drive down the ice-hill to attend the funeral of a beloved patient. Hugging her memory instead. Listening to music that warns me of how little time is left. Wanting to sleep, not being able to rest. Feeling out of control, like a car sliding backwards on ice down an embankment. Which is an image, but also an experience.
Water is dripping along the eaves. If I don’t walk down the frozen dirt road in the next hour or so, I won’t be able to rescue my car from ice-sloughs until another day. There are messages that I don’t know how to read, tasks that I can’t find the tools to perform, days that slip into frozen time, regrets–yes, regrets–that take my breath away and leave me trailing the crowd, panting out wordless messages to no one. I listen to lungs everyday, the crackles, the wheezes, the quiet sounds that are so treacherous, the collections of fluid that squeeze breath from lung tissue–pleural effusions, we call them. Effusions. Pouring forth. Ice-water-fog. Water in lung tissue. The sense of drowning inside. My patient–this woman that I loved, who reminded me in sweet ways of my mother, died of lung disease. But died peacefully, I am happy to report. Didn’t die alone, I am glad to say. Died in a warm bed in her husband’s arms. Still, I am sad and icy today. Both.
“[We are] torn between the hope of living forever and the fear of never dying”
–Jose Saramago, in Death with Interruptions
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