Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I got an excellent night’s sleep Monday night, nine full hours, and I had time to sit for 45 minutes yesterday morning. Many days lately have featured just a token ten minutes of sitting, which is fine, but more is better.

I’m finding it weirdly helpful, besides smelling food, to look at it and touch it: the sunny round lemon bought in C.’s honor and how it squishes slightly when grasped, the pear-shaped avocado with its green bark and clay-like give, the olives glistening in their oily bath. Dune-colored cashews, linked elbow by elbow by elbow.

I spoke with C. on the phone in the morning and he said that at noon, he was going to go somewhere but wasn’t sure where, and he was concerned that he might not be there when I arrived. We agreed that he doesn’t have to worry about it, because I’ll call first and find out where he is before heading over. He was worried that I’d make an unnecessary trip. I assured him that wherever he goes, I will find him. (Afterward, I checked with the nurse to be sure he didn’t actually have an appointment; he didn’t.)

After work, I took a cab to the hospital and found C., alarmingly, speaking at times in gibberish, incoherent, unable to get the words out. He wasn’t doing that in the slightest the day prior. Of his own glasses, he asked, “Whose is this?” (Not “Whose are these?”) He was surprised to hear they were his.

He was obsessed with wanting to leave and to take all his stuff with him so he doesn’t have to “make a trip back to get the rest.” He kept saying he wanted to “get something” and to “take two.” I think it’s hard for him that some of his stuff is elsewhere in the hospital. Maybe wanting to “take two” meant taking his pants and his jacket. “I’m just going to get the two,” he said.

I’m torn between capturing as much as possible of what he says and fully experiencing him, which precludes scribbling on a piece of paper. I guess I’d better go now for the experience and let the exact quotes go.

While I was still with C., I got a call from a doctor with the MRI results: C. has multiple brain tumors, one of which they will biopsy on Thursday. It sounds like they feel pretty certain these tumors are malignant and will find out from the biopsy whether they are lymphoma or some other kind of malignant tumor, and if they can be treated.

After C. had his dinner, we discussed his jacket some more, which I assured him was locked up in the hotel safe. He said with relief, “So it’s safe,” and I agreed it was. However, the hotel ploy made it a little awkward when it was time to leave: why should he stay overnight in a hotel room by himself? I told him I’d call him first thing tomorrow and we’d make our plans, but he didn’t understand why he wasn’t leaving with me, which he asked about three or four times, mostly in Spanish: “Contigo?” (“With you?”) He asked, “Why am I not going with you?” It was hard and sad, and difficult to leave him.

I’d arranged with Charlie for him to pick me up about 7 and take me to Howie’s. I’m thinking it would be good to try to keep my life going in case I need it later; being with meditation friends (sangha) is important. However, it was a very sad evening. Howie talked about C. a lot and read a poem of his, and I cried and cried and cried. And cried and cried. It’s not going to be fun without C.

What I’ve learned from C. so far: the pain of having a closed heart, of speaking less than charitably of others. That you might not get precisely what you want, but you can certainly ask. That it’s more fun to think of a different way to say something or even make up a whole new word than just to say things the same way all the time. To consider how you really feel before acting and not just to follow the plan. To find something remarkable in every nook and cranny, in what might seem very ordinary. That there’s not the slightest need to rush, ever, even when you’ve just started crossing a four-lane street and the light is about to change. That someone else telling you to do something is never a compelling reason to do it. How sweet it is to have a hand to hold and friendly eyes to gaze into and someone to have dinner with and tell about your day.
Post a Comment