Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Importunate Peanut

When Tom’s mother (Ann) and I were having lunch in Berkeley recently, we both had tea we thought was particularly good. Hers was a version of Earl Grey and mine was a green tea. The teas were from Steven Smith, Teamaker, in Portland (smithtea.com) and I ordered some of the tea Ann liked, to send to her, and the one I liked, and several other green teas, including matcha, because shopping really, really helps. Yesterday I put the various teas into glass jars with airtight lids and was swooning over the colors and shapes and particularly the smells. It’s profoundly satisfying to smell the green earthy cool scents.

I took a cab to visit C. in the afternoon in the hospital, and found out that he’d had his MRI, but didn’t hear anything about the results.
It sounded like hed had a good number of visitors earlier in the day, which made me worried that I won’t get enough time with him or that I will, but only by acting in a way that will make people hate me the way some people hated Yoko Ono.

He asked me about seven times in a row about my trip over there: “What was your sense of the trip? How was the trip?”

Then he talked, so sweetly, about how he wants our relationship to be, apologizing if he has ever failed to listen. He’s actually about the best listener I’ve ever encountered. He never, ever interrupts and he listens as if in his whole life, he’s never heard anything more interesting. It was a delightful conversation, but also painful: he doesn't know we're not going to be having this relationship he's imagining. He doesn't know he's going away. Only I know that only one of us will be left.


N. from Howie’s, a longtime friend of C.’s, joined us after a bit, bringing presents, and while C. had his hospital dinner, N. took me to El Metate, a place I’d never been before. It was wonderful—great food, charming atmosphere, excellent prices. It’s near 22nd and Bryant.

We went back to see C. for another while, and then N. left so C. and I could have some final time together, and then Charlie came and fetched me and took me home. All these helpful souls, so essential.

I got a nice phone message from Howie and one from Deborah, my mental health professional, who said this is one of the hardest things we ever go through, and that all my work has made me well equipped to deal with this.

I assume I’m dealing with C.’s impending demise, possibly preceded by a lengthy period of painful, horrible medical intervention, but you never know. He’s surprised me over and over, so it could be that in a month I’ll be saying to him, “I thought you were going to die! To think it was just that a peanut had somehow gotten lodged in your brain. You are a mysterious and remarkable fellow.”
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