Saturday, May 19, 2012

In which I wish my neighbours would go camping.

Granite under skin: gratefully, sun-warmed. Chill mountain water dries off fast, the print of my hand soon shrinking away. Around my hand, the glints: if I close one eye they come into focus, freckles of mica. As cold lake water evaporates from my warming body, dominant scents shift from wet skin and wet rock, back to Jeffrey pine. The breeze carrying it raised goose bumps when I was soaked, brings relief now that I'm dry.

Suddenly the granite slope, the pines and the breeze, vanish.

Next door, the loud neighbour is tormenting the little kid again. When hollered at to stop crying, naturally the child cries louder. I wish I could tell them, not just to please keep it down, but to raise it up: to raise the level of everyday life to something worth recalling in detail, should they ever become chronically ill and spend hours with nowhere to go but their own minds.

If you're well enough to go into a forest or up a mountain or whatever place makes your heart glad, go now. Soak in every sensation and store them up. Brush your hand across the granite and keep that texture. Keep the pitch of the hawk's cry and the particular gold of the marmot's fur.  Whether the Jeffrey pine reminds you more of vanilla or of butterscotch, keep its exact interaction with your own singular senses, because that may someday be the very thing you need to recall.

Fantasy too can be a shelter from pain, but it's a bittersweet treat, because it presumes a someday in which dreams can come true. If your condition is deteriorating, you know in your stubbornly desiring heart the somedays you create in fantasy can never have a place in reality, and that realisation can be more disruptive than the loud neighbour. No matter how perfect the detail of your imagined world, it crumbles when confronted by reality, and aren't there already enough tears, without weeping for the things that can't be?

Then there are all the things that can happen, the things that need to happen, the list of things to do when the energy to do them returns. I can spend some time thinking ahead to them and doing whatever part of the future it's possible to do now in my mind, but that's a small part and usually amounts to endless lists and needless worry.

So I go back. A moment here or there, sometimes a moment I can place exactly within the framework of past events, sometimes a moment typical of a period of my life, or sometimes a moment that stands on its own---it doesn't matter as long as it's full.

I love my mind and its way of lingering on details, making each one perfect. I've stored up so many riches to get me through this time of poverty. When present reality shrinks to the size of my bed, and me alone in it, and the pain in me, I can recall an infant asleep in the curve of my arm, the sound of her gentle breathing, the downiness of her hair and the sweet smell of the top of her head, like honey and warm kittens. I can pore now over the details of then and know how fortunate I am.

I would far rather be up and working hard, doing the things that will help launch that same daughter into an adulthood full of the best possible moments of her own, but in these stuck times when I can do nothing of help to anyone, but survive until energy returns, it's only me and my mind.


  1. Beautiful Kassey. I am also thankful for my imagination and good memories in getting me through this illness now. At first I would grieve those memories, somehow now I am more at peace with them and feel grateful for them...I hope that feeling lasts. xo

  2. Thanks, Jodi. And yes, I hope the feeling lasts! All my statements should come with the caveat, "At least that's how I feel at the moment." And while I try to enjoy but not to grieve for the past, and try not to dream impossible dreams, they do still tug at me at times.

  3. Dear Kassy: You are launching your daughter into adulthood even from the confines of your bed and your pain. The legacy you are passing on to her--of strength and intelligence and courage in the face of terrible incapacitation--is finding its way into her heart and being. The friends you still manage to maintain, the connections you manage to forge and the activism that you continue to embrace sizzle through the Grace of Cyberspace...but it does sizzle. That you are in such awful pain and stuckness and fear makes me weep, but your writing is eloquent and beautiful. Loud neighbors suck. But thank Heavens they won't have you as their unwilling audience forever. Here's to good changes in your life soon! - Marlan