Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ave atque vale

Throughout the years, you have been barely successful in any attempt to maintain a sense of order about your living and working quarters, these last several managing to keep at least a sense of un-disarray in the living room.

For the past few weeks, that has gone asunder thanks to the presence of a hospital bed, facing roughly east to west, on which reposes an individual you've known a good part of your adult life.  The cancer cells have been winning out over the internal organs, but not over the essential her, which you characterize as an incredible curiosity about the life around her and an ongoing pleasure at being alive to experience the things she has.

This morning, while you brought in coffee and sat, she said the time had come; she wanted this precious experience to be at an end because, in fact, she was already sleeping through much of it.  There has already been a good deal of hand holding and reminiscing about events, about the panoply of animals who have found their ways into our homes and hearts, about plans made, about things done and not done.

You agreed most readily to take over her classes in the coming semester and for as long as you can thereafter, making those classes her farewell gifts and keepsakes to the students she cared so much about.

Steady in her loss of energy, she began to laugh at the thought of cheating the indignity of wearing a Foley catheter for any time.  When you needed to wear one, those seven years ago when you were up against the same opponent, you didn't think it was such a bad option.  But you had no thought of going anywhere except back to work.  "We're winning,"  she said.  "I'm still at home, which is where I wanted to be."

Before she settled off into a nap, you told her you would take her with you, where ever you went.  She winked and said, Me, too.

As you tiptoed away, she said,"Be sure to do something nice for dogs."

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