As it turns out, shock and resilience can wear thin and then come back, resilience anyway, hope, belief, strength and other desireable disopositions...those can come back full throttle. Another thing to be grateful for and to be aware of.
We just spent three days apart and one together. The days apart were brutal. I don't want to overlook the fact that I loved being at work, being able to exercise; it was good to take care of some things at home. I was well attended by an abundance of friends and neighbors wrapping me in their care and concern, wanting to know, sharing their stories. It was very helpful. Chico did some healing alone, was attended for two of those days by our dear friend, Michael O'Brien...got better. Underlying the existence, though, was profound anxiety and dissatisfaction. I guess we might want to get used to this state for now. We also know that Chico's recovery will not last forever. It is odd how the shock (I wonder if it was physiological for two or more weeks) provided a lot of stamina and pragmatism.
Today I rejoined Chico. I drove down to Albany and sat in a chair, a vinyl chair, all day. It was sublime, if you can imagine. Deeply reassuring for both of us. I am home now but I'll return tomorrow night and stay through Thursday at least. The surgery Wednesday will, by all accounts, be a doozy.
After three day's absence, healing is evident. Though Chico is "Unrecognizeable to myself [himself]" he looks like himself to me. A supremely expressive face. The silver stubble is a little too reminiscent of my father but I'm just letting that wash over me. My father and I had a great relationship; he spent the last year and a half living alone, well, except for his Alzheimers and his dog...Stubble city. Teeth falling out like corn kernals too. So the similarity really begins and ends with the stubble.
Chico is strong. He pulls himself up on a new ring (red triangle, actually) hanging above his bed to be washed and have sheets changed. It is obviously very painful but I don't think excruciating. His leg is less swollen. The stapled wound looks all healed. His belly is tender...Well most places are. He is thinking, thinking, thinking. Memories are coming back. "I remember seeing my bone come out of my leg. Did my bone come out of my leg? It came right through my pants. Where are my pants?" I'm short on short term memory, can you tell? It is sorry task and a wonderful task to be able to comfort a person for whom the world has done a back flip and taken him, unspotted, with it. Injuries. Scars.
You know, when I was asked to identify Chico over the phone the first night-he in Albany, me in Vermont-the person with him kept asking me what distinguishing features he has..."Scars? He must have scars. What scars does he have?" He didn't have scars. She was giggling. LADY, HE DOESN'T HAVE SCARS OKAY?! I didn't say it.
Chico is strong. People inside the hospital come to visit him because he has maintained so much of himself. His fantastic roommate, Kevin, and his wife Shouwen, moved to rehab tonight. They had all become good friends in my absence. They admire Chico. They told him so. They presented him with two books: Sol Le Witt and a book of Japanese poems. They understood Chico. I felt pride and wonder. Why do we so often wait to see people in their most vulnerable states before we can tell them what good we see in them? Chico is still very vulnerable.
Today I read cards, emails and posts to Chico. It really brought him relief, and a bit of release from his locked down
Which brings me to all of you: your words of hope and admiration, the rawness of some of these messages you send continue to touch us to the core. This event and its aftermath are penetrating change agents. Thanks for being part of this with us. We'd be lost otherwise.