Monday, February 15, 2010

A Last Glimpse of the Sun

Last Saturday, a week ago, I went to see D., who was mostly asleep, though we did also take a brief trip to a chapel-like room on the second floor of her facility, and I did my cooking and Tom and I watched Killshot, starring Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I had never noticed before how attractive Mickey Rourke is. Of course, I have seen hardly any of his films. Now I’ll have to see some of them.

On Sunday I was going to go to a beginners’ day of meditation at the Zen Center, but when I got there, I found it had been canceled. However, five other participants were there, too—computer glitch—so the teacher said we would receive credits for future use, and he hung out with us, anyway, for about half a day. We did a couple of periods of sitting in the zendo, with walking in between, and then we all had lunch together and Mark answered a lot of our practice questions, so it ended up being a very nice thing.

Was that only a week ago? It seems like a month has passed since then. On Wednesday evening, I got to have dinner with Lisa C., in town for work. We went to Chef Jia’s for our favorite dishes and a very pleasant conversation. She told me about a podcast she’s been listening to that features a male reader with a wonderful voice.

“Kind of like Mickey Rourke in Killshot?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah, just like that,” Lisa said, adding, “Actually, nothing whatsoever like that.”

On Thursday, I went to see an acupuncturist I used to see years ago, Kelly, and I’m going to see her every two weeks until various aches and pains have subsided. During the off weeks, I’m going to see Jack for his brand of bodywork and also some lessons in the Alexander technique—I think bad posture habits are now causing problems faster than Jack, Jeff and Kelly can fix them.

However, I have finally established what may be a durable stretching practice. My whole routine takes a minimum of 30 minutes, which almost never is possible, but I can certainly find 10 minutes, so I’ve just been doing that every morning, for the better part of a month now, without missing a day. It takes three days to get through the entire sequence, but I can absolutely feel the difference even so.

I had an extraordinarily busy day this past Saturday, starting at 6 a.m., at which point I was already half an hour behind schedule. I wrote down my dreams, meditated, did laundry, went to Rainbow for groceries, and went to see D. at the hospice. I was shocked at how altered her appearance was from just one week prior.

She was in bed and intermittently asleep, but she also asked to go outside for some fresh air. A nurse bundled her into a wheelchair and we went out back, where D. turned her face to the small bit of February sun with a look of pure joy and contentment. We sat there for some time, holding hands. She told me, “You’re quite a gal.”

“Likewise,” I said.

I stayed for about an hour and a half, until one of her daughters arrived. Then I walked home, took a shower, and went with Tom to Sacramento for a birthday dinner for Chris, preceded by a short visit to Ann and Mac’s so Tom could drop off a Valentine’s Day card for his mother.

The party was wonderful. The food was fantastic, as always, and we watched some of the Olympics on TV and generally hung out. Steve made me laugh harder than I can remember laughing in months. We had to leave a bit earlier than we would have liked because I’d reserved the City CarShare Honda Fit until midnight only; I’ll make it later next time. Tom is generally a very sedate driver, despite my exhorting him at intervals to “Floor it!”, but he kept up a brisk pace on the way home and even with stopping in Suisun for gas, we made it with about seven minutes to spare.

All of that happened on Saturday!

Yesterday, after sleeping for about ten and a half hours, I caught up on some chores and then made lentil-potato-tomato stew and caramel oat bars.

This morning, I found out that D. died yesterday, Valentine’s Day, at about 10 a.m., while I was still asleep. She was conscious off and on right to the end.

When I saw her two days ago, she was fretting about why she hadn’t gone yet, wondering what was holding her back. She faced her own death with remarkable bravery and acceptance. She was so ready to go that I can’t wish she was still here, but I’m still sad, and sorry for her daughters, who are only in their 20s. She was just 57.
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