Tuesday, May 10, 2011

change. of. life.

I am pretty sure if we really grasped the fragile nature of this life, we'd all be shrieking, hair-tearing lunatics, too frightened to step out the front door. I, maybe most of us, live in an insulated state, making my little plans, setting out each day to accomplish this task and that one. It does not normally occur to me that any moment the earth might yawn wide beneath my feet, plunging me into a chasm of uncertainty that is the only real absolute in life. Who could live with that knowing? Who??

When a little over a month ago, my husband woke from a nap swollen and gasping for air, the earth yawned wide. I know terrible things happen to people every day; I'm no Pollyanna. Dreadful, unexpected, unplanned for events happen with fair regularity and we are none of us immune. Yet I don't think anyone can live sanely with a real time awareness of that second life, the swirling, fetid undercurrent below the good life we all expect and hope to live in. Down there lies sudden, severe illness, natural disaster, wars, murders, personal crises of every stripe, and devastating world events. It is silent, this tandem reality, yet as true as the one we live in most days.

Without beating to death the obvious, it is the most extraordinary thing to know the very instant, the moment, the nanosecond that life changes. "I can't breathe." Three words irrevocably changed my world from that second forward. A slow motion sequence of events, from those words through what came after, runs over and over through my mind, a five week looping replay, replay, replay.

And much did come after. There was much good, with excellent medical care, brilliant doctors, and compassionate caregivers. And there was one very, very bad night, when neglect and indifference stopped the heart I love for seven torturous minutes.

Even now, having been through the nightmare of weeks and weeks in hospital, medical care and medical mistakes, diagnoses and lack thereof, I find that I'm edging again toward that calm place where bad things don't happen. Truly, how else can we live? The alternative is an impossible ~ yet still powerless ~ hypervigilance. It's not possible to openly live with the truth of it, that we're swept along in this river of life bobbing in the sunlight, while all manner of uglies clutch and grasp at us from below.

Life changes in an instant, turns on a dime, the earth tilts on its axis. Only cliches provide some semblance of comfort, assuring that this is a widely shared human condition, that my little family isn't being singled out somehow. Satchel Paige said "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." And I'll add to that, don't look down. Don't look beneath the surface. It's too terrifying. Better to live in that safe space above, where the sun shines every day. At least for the moment.

Have you ever lost your footing in a completely unexpected way? Were you able to get it back? Did it forever change your outlook on life? Tell, please. I know we're not alone in this, but it's a comfort to hear that from others.

Labels: , , ,

17 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

I've been re-reading my old blog entries and your many kind words of company and support and I've missed you and worried about that wonderful writer who wasn't writing her blog any more. I thought maybe you'd been overwhelmed by your Dad's situation - I never guessed it might be Mike. I do hope he makes a full recovery and that you are reassured and able to continue pursuing your dreams of a richly deserved happiness

May 10, 2011 9:09 PM  
Blogger Benne' Rockett said...

I missed you terribly while you were in the abyss. Life is indeed chaordic; an imperative of nature that makes no sense when we are in the middle of the chaos. But when order returns, and our veil has been placed squarely on our heads, life is all bliss and a kiss from the man you love.

May 10, 2011 9:28 PM  
Blogger mkinser said...

When my sister's son died at birth, the chasm opened & sucked me in. I kept thinking, "this is a mistake, things like this don't happen to families like us" but it did. I went from happily awaiting the news of his delivery & instead I got a call from my dad. When he said, "you better sit down", I felt the air disappear from the room. It was the first time I saw my dad cry. And I knew it was real & deep & nothing would be the same.

May 10, 2011 9:53 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 10, 2011 11:50 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

We returned to blogging on the same day? How wierd is that? Of course you were more eloquent, as usual!

I felt the same way when I heard my honey had cancer, and changed so many things forever...most is well for now, and the horror of that diagnosis is just a memory. Life has a way of returning us to that place of safety and denial so that we can continue on, with renewed strength, until the next crisis...

May 10, 2011 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

Well said, friend. Life is full of surprises. I now have a collection of friends and family members who have jumped the gap, so to speak. As my wrinkles grow deeper, my heart grows softer, my eyes more liquid, my arms warmer. Last night my grandson told me that he would rather have me live with him than have a billion dollars. What more is there than that?

May 11, 2011 2:23 AM  
Blogger Tony Adams said...

A friend, Brian McNaught, recently wrote about losing someone whom you love and with whom you've shared your life. Brian and I have a mutual friend who is in that circumstance. Brian says that inside the design of the first "hello" you make to your future partner is the eventual "goodbye". Most of the time, we don't think about it, but sometimes, when something threatens the one we love, that goodbye surfaces and we have to look at it. We know that someday, it will not resubmerge when the crisis passes. Someday, when it materializes, we will each try to find the way to say it. Sometimes, when I look at the big picture, I can laugh at the wonderful experience of being alive. Sometimes I grieve. Most of time, I am just struck dumb.

May 11, 2011 9:23 AM  
Anonymous lynette said...

@Greg...I've missed keeping up with you dear heart. Hope to catch up soon. Daddy's still going down hill, and the immediate concern is Mike. Fucking life, yes? If it's not one thing, it's another. :)

Benne' ... into the abyss. That is precisely what happened, and such a surprise. I always think/hope for the best (truly), so when that doesn't happen, yikes! The scramble upward takes more energy than I can find of late. I'm sort of languishing in the middle, but at least the terror is fading.

MKinser.... You know. Life changing in an instant. I am so sorry for your loss. That is precisely it: "I felt the air disappear from the room." And it feels as if we'll never breathe again.

Chris... sweetie. Great minds allegedly think alike? I am glad for you that things have returned to normal. That feeling of safety and denial is a blessing, yet even though the rift beneath our feet heals, there's still the hint of awareness.

Carol...deeper, softer, liquid, warmer. There probably isn't more than that softness that comes from accepting life as it is. Your grandson... what a treasure, yes? :)

Tony...wow. This made me cry: Inside the design of the first "hello" you make to your future partner is the eventual "goodbye." That risk is something I considered in staying single for many years. Then Mike. The wonderful experience of being alive, grieving, struck dumb. Yes.

Thank you, all of you, for sharing your thoughts. It truly does help to know we're all in this together. Maybe if we hang on, we can bridge the empty when the earth breaks beneath our feet.

May 12, 2011 9:49 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Words. Powerful when spoken from the abyss. Thanks, Lynette, for speaking up again. My fear and my pain anxiously hear you.

I entered this world alone and I will leave it alone. I was and perhaps will be surrounded by others but my journey was and is a solitary one. A lifetime of hoping and pretending otherwise do not change that truth. My life has required continuous adjustments in my thinking and my attachments. My hoping has just been attachment in clever disguise.

Less and less do I demand life give me what I want. More and more I find myself accepting whatever life gives me. Right now that seems to be the best I can do. And some days I don't do that so well. Ego still has some life left in it.

May 13, 2011 10:18 PM  
Anonymous sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

May 20, 2011 4:35 AM  
Blogger ewe said...

Prayer and meditation always remains an option.

June 01, 2011 11:12 AM  
Blogger D W JazzLover said...

After so many losses in my life, I live and remember all the good times,and beauty they all gave me..Mother, Father, Grandparents, My Dearest friends and all my lovers exceptp one..Only had 5..Well now my time grows near..Open heart 17 years ago..Sympytoms starting now...I have serious decisions to make, But Life for me has been wonderful..and I just know it does not end here...Why gain all this Knowledge and beauty just to put it into the ground...Yes Life turns on a dime...and there is nothing we can do about it...but to love and accept..
I truly understand you discreption of Medicine and Hospitals..I took early retirment to get out of the system they are creating now..
Thanks for the post, it brought me such comfort..Love the Comments..

June 05, 2011 1:45 PM  
Blogger LzyMom said...

I think I'm always worried about the earth opening up and swallowing everything I know and love. Even seeing a therapist, I never feel really secure. I'm always awaiting the next tragedy. As I drive my husband nuts with my fears, I tend to keep them to myself. Which, of course, just feeds them. :P

Yes, one day, many years ago the earth opened up under my feet. My mother suffered a major heart attack and died a few days later. I was 22. I lived with her at the time and the effect on my life was immediate and long lasting.

I try hard to remember that life is fragile and not to take the good things for granted. I'm so sorry for the difficulties that you're going through. No, you're not alone. I wish you peace. *hugs*

Sonia

June 07, 2011 7:08 PM  
Blogger David said...

Using such eloquent words to combat the void is one way of doing it - thank you. Yes, I have, myself - I lost my soul for huge portions of three years, which really was a living death - and I think I'm the stronger for loving life more now, and able to understand more the sufferings of others. Less long-term appalling was when my partner suffered a post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage, and I actually heard the doctor at 3am rushing out of the emergency room and saying 'I think we've lost him'. He was quickly fine, but how extraordinary that in that one moment, life suddenly came to a halt from so silly a cause.

June 14, 2011 9:27 AM  
Blogger Marc Olson said...

I was thinking about you for quite awhile today and went back reading some of your old blog entries. I miss your voice.

I've re-read this entry and still haven't responded, I guess because every time I start to think about it it turns into a huge, huge essay. I just found out a friend dipped below the surface and tried to kill herself last week. What you wrote is so, so true...and what Hammockman Paul just posted



is the answer to the question, I think. Expectations, and living for now, are the key to living above the surface as much as we can, for me at least.

I hope Mike continues to improve and that you are doing well.

June 27, 2011 11:58 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Just re-read this wonderful post today, as I'm dealing with a friend losing her honey to suicide....your eloquence is remarkable as always. You can write like no other my friend! Hugs!
I hope you're okay with my sharing it....for those who may need to hear it.

July 20, 2011 6:57 PM  
Blogger Debbi said...

I'm rereading this post, as well, and wondering how things are for you and Mike now. Other than hot as hell, of course!

My husband (also a Mike) got a horrible diagnosis from an ENT in March. Two weeks later, after finally ordering a biopsy of the offending lump in his neck, it was found to be benign. The initial diagnosis was based on palpation and medical history.

He's fine now, tumor's gone, scar's healed, he even quit smoking. But how well I remember that feeling of the earth slipping away. I hope you're well.

July 21, 2011 6:18 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home