Yesterday I went to see my hospice visitee and found her slumped in her chair, head down, one leg hugely swollen. I fitted on her headphones, which allow me to speak to her via an electronic device, and she said she wanted to sort some of her photos. She ended up very pleased and happy, saying I’d helped her make more headway than in a long time. I liked it, too, because I got to see a lot of her pictures, spanning decades. She is about to turn 99. When I had to leave, she hollered, “Hey! That ain’t two hours!”
To see her smiling when she had seemed so sad and alone when I arrived was really satisfying, maybe my best moments ever of being a hospice volunteer. She’s very hard of hearing and the staff there don’t bother with her hearing device—they speak to her so briefly that they just yell instead. She has a daughter here in San Francisco, but her daughter rarely visits. My visitee said, “It seems like my daughter and I are in two different families.” I was thinking maybe I could write up the instructions for how to use her listening device and leave them in her room, in case anyone wanted to do it, but I don’t know if anyone would.
It was another enchantingly beautiful, sunny afternoon. This has been an extraordinary summer for good weather. Last summer, if I recall correctly, it was chilly and grey practically every day, and the summer before that featured several miserable heat waves. This one has been superb. Good for job hunting!
Yesterday evening, Tom and I took BART down to Daly City to see The Campaign, which I didn’t like very much—both of the best lines are in the trailer—but I really appreciated having somewhere to go and someone to go there with. Thank goodness for Tom and his even keel and imperturbable friendship over these many years. What would I do without him?
Here’s a weird thing: One of the photos of C. in his book of poetry looks very much like an actor whose name I couldn’t think of. I showed Tom the photo and he agreed. Well, I can now tell you the actor is Brian Cox, because he happens to be in The Campaign! (However, don’t think C. generally looks like Brian Cox; just that particular photo does. C. looks like Santa Claus.)
Speaking of lifesaving friends, Elea emailed yesterday to propose a walk for this morning. She lives right here, but I rarely see her, so that was magical good timing, ditto Lesley calling to say we should get together soon.
I’m trying to get through this as constructively as possible, but of course there are periods of grief, like pockets of weather one passes through. Having seen C. so often is helping now, in a way. Because of the frequency of our contact, it seemed like I had been spending time with him for much, much longer than just over four months—twenty years?—which means that after making it through the whole entire day yesterday without contact, it seemed as if a week had passed.
This morning Elea and I took a nice long walk, my standard walk and then some, and had a satisfying chat. After she left, I thought I might feel lonely and sad, but it was a good day of doing my journal, combing Hammett and clipping his nails, cleaning the bathroom, finalizing my packing list, and so forth.
By some miracle, I arrived at this evening, two entire days, without having called C., nor having heard from him. Still very odd to think of driving off for my retreat tomorrow without being in touch, but I know that is what must happen.
I found this in an Al-Anon book: “There are times when I have to hurt through a situation and when this happens, the choice is not whether to hurt or not to hurt, but what to do while I am hurting.”
I listened to Adele today and cried a little, which I believe is correct breakup form, but didn’t prolong this activity. After three songs, it was on to Slayer, but not as a way to drown anything out. I can definitely feel the gentle simmer of anxiety and sorrow.
If there will be upsides to not seeing C., one might be eating out less. All the dining out has been great fun, but lately I noticed my underwear was no longer fitting properly in the rear—it seemed to be covering less and less territory, which I realized was because the material was, of necessity, gathering to the front.