Another day, another drive in which I leave the death wishes of the masses unfulfilled.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Seriously, people. Please do not walk, drive, ride or skateboard in front of my moving car. I am a very good and careful and conscientious driver, but one of these days, I'm not going to be able to stop in time. I live in fear of that day.
I haven't had to worry about science fair for two years. However, the photo of this project is instructive, to me anyway.
It was the first.
It went like this: the son had just had knee surgery and was still in an immobilization cast, so I spent a Sunday afternoon pouring concrete and planting little plants in fish tanks while he supervised. Then, of course, there was the hanging of the large hot lights intended to simulate the sun, logging temperature changes.
In the end, the son won a prize from the local chapter of the Audubon Society. But that's neither here nor there. The lesson is this: I was stumped for a photo to post, and went hunting through old folders, specifically for photos taken in February. Like a diary entry, a photo taken same month, x number of years ago. Learn something from it.
Six years ago, I was dealing with a kid who'd just had knee surgery. As I am today. Then, a kid who got Norovirus about 10 days after surgery. Today, a kid who got a virulent cold--the doctor said it wasn't the flu--about 10 days after surgery (and who has been home the last two, which she can ill afford in terms of time spent out of school). Then, a kid who had to run an experiment for an enormous part of his grade. Today, a kid who had to film all Saturday for a big project (and guess who got to supervise, wrangle a dog and provide traffic control? At least it wasn't the boom mike this time...or pouring concrete and planting 3 terrariums).
I want to say that nothing really changes (it does, I know), but honestly.
It occurred to me recently that I have two more years.
Long ago, in another time and place, I was given a book of fairy tales. It was a gorgeous book with amazing illustrations, and I cherish my copy still.
One of the most poignant stories was a Japanese fairy tale translated as "Urashima and the Turtle." Urashima goes off into the sea with a beautiful princess, but eventually, he longs to return home. The princess gives him a box with instructions never to open it and returns him to his shore. Of course, Urashima has been in the sea for a very long time, and time has passed without him, and his family and friends are long gone. So he opens the box and ages in moments. The story ends: "Soon on the white beach lay a skeleton fit for a grave dug four hundred years before. When the moon stood above the pine trees, it shone on the waves that gather and break, gather and break, over and over, forever...."
The image and onomatopoeic quality of the words have remained with me for decades, and I never fail to hear the waves gather and break, gather and break when I'm near the ocean. Even more than the whole idea of the circle of life, the infinite ocean running up against the shore marks for me the cyclical span of our days.
It's been a hell of a few days. Not only was there another death in our family the day before the daughter's surgery, but a child at the daughter's school collapsed during lunch a week ago, and subsequently died. It is a terrible thing to watch one's child confront the reality of death, but more so when s/he they lose a peer because that seems to drive home the finality of death in such a brutal way. The loss of someone we care for leaves such a hole in the world.
Like the waves, our families and communities gather and break, gather and break. We celebrate and we mourn, gather more into our circle and whirl away from one another again as we move on in this world and out of it, over and over, forever.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. The quote from "Urashima and the Turtle" comes from The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, p. 69.
Cobh was an unexpected stop on our journey, and we were greeted by blustery weather, cold and damp. Not that we'd let that deter us. So into the wind and rain we went, and we hiked up the winding narrow road toward the cathedral.
Even in the rain, Cobh is charming, and I fell in love with the bright red door parked in the white wall across from the cathedral. I'm probably tall enough that I could have looked over the wall to see where the door led, but that would have been rude, and I'd far rather imagine what lay beyond the door. A secret garden? A tiny cottage set into the hillside?
The door speaks volumes, mysteriously.
Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Yes, I am rather fond of doors and all they promise, good, bad and scary. They keep things in and they keep things out. Sometimes, they invite.
Like my mother and I, the daughter wanted to play basketball. Her build is a combination of mine and my mother's. She is shorter, more solid through the torso, wider through the hips, not so long, more proportional.
But she got the cursed knees. Like me. Like my brothers. Like her brother.
And she got my grandmother's beautiful tiny wrists and long, slender hands.
On Thursday, the nurses stared at her long, thin hands and debated. She sat in the bed, and shook: from fear, from lack of food, from the cold. I held her close and crooned into her abundant hair, urging her to breathe. Finally, a pediatric nurse was enlisted to find a vein and get the IV in. This she did with aplomb, and the daughter was finally able to sit back and relax a little.
The doctors came. We all talked. The surgeon signed her knee, indicating which one needed attention. The daughter sat quietly, looking stricken. The ramifications of surgery became all too apparent to her.
I kissed her and hugged her before they wheeled her away. An hour, the surgeon told us.
As I have so many times before, I returned to the waiting room. And waited.
About 50 minutes later, the surgeon appeared. As with the son's surgery, he began in a systematic and enthusiastic fashion to describe what had taken place. And this time he had photos! The chunk of bone he removed was about a 1/2 inch long; no wonder the kid had been unable to straighten her leg. But there was other bone debris he removed as well and looking at it, I cursed our insurance company, which had initially demanded that she be sent to physical therapy before doing an MRI. Who knows how much additional damage that would have created. ("It would have torn up the inside of her knee," the surgeon said, shaking his head in disgust.)
A bit later, we were called back to recovery. The daughter groggily asked me where she was.
She's three days into recovery now, and already hobbling around without crutches. Her ability to straighten her leg is still imperfect but better than it was before. She didn't react well to the painkillers that were prescribed for her and like thevrest of us, eschewed them for the occasional dose of acetaminophen. Her good humor has returned, and she and the cat are fighting over who owns the corner of the couch, the official Best Seat In the House.
Inconvenient? Gods,yes. But as I said when the son went through this, my children don't have a catastrophic illness and this is not life threatening. We will cope and I am grateful.