Friday, May 11, 2007
If I Was Young, Maybe
My mother loved the ocean, was oblivious to its dangers. But true to her nature, she had a whole mess of stories about the bad things that could happen to you in the water. If you ever fall out of a boat, you should float, she'd say. A person can float forever. I, true to my nature, couldn't float at all. I'd try and start to flail about two seconds later, imagining my watery grave. And even though my mother could float, she couldn't in life. She worried about everything, but even she couldn't envision what would happen to her. As she grew sicker and sicker, I'd read medical reference books in an attempt to understand the surgeries she'd have and the after effects. The worst one was the last, a fourteen hour ordeal where she'd have most of her intestines removed and replaced with bags. The last line of the recommendation in the book reads, Explain to patient that her vagina will be removed. The doctors could rebuild it by taking a chunk out of the patient's thigh muscles, an option my mother dismissed. If I was young, maybe, she said. She hadn't reached fifty.
Two days before the surgery, my mother put her feet into the hotel pool near the hospital. It was her last chance to swim, but she she didn't get in the water. After so many years of loving it, she couldn't bring herself to say goodbye or float around like she didn't have a care in the world. Once I swam in an infinity pool, the kind that stops at the edge of the ocean. You feel as if you are in nature with none of the inconvenience -- undertows and sharks, jellyfish and garbage. It looks as if it goes on forever. It doesn't, of course. Nothing does. It stops just where the danger starts. You can't go any farther even if you want.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The past is never dead. It's not even past." William Faulkner
Drinking novel suggestion: American Pastoral Philip Roth
Benedictions and Maledictions
Congratulations to my beloved Pistons for winning against Chicago last night!