Tag Archives: Adversity

Courage at Twilight: I’m Too Sick To Care What Day It Is

Hannah sang “Happy Birthday” to me by text, in ALL CAPS and with red hearts  ♥♥♥ and birthday memes.  But I am too sick to care what day it is.  Mom had prepared a booklet of baby memories to read, and I was going to cook French food for my family in lieu of them bringing gifts.  But I decided to contract Covid-19 instead.  And it laid me flat.  And I called off the party, of course.  I hope the conventional wisdom is correct, that the four vaccinations I received (each of which cost me two days of work for the reactions) served to lessen the severity of my illness: I can breathe.  Now that I have Covid-19, I appreciate more what it means to have Covid-19, and feel more compassion for the millions who have survived the illness, and millions who have died.  My predominant emotion on my 58th birthday is a species of smoldering guilt: guilt that I cannot cook for my parents, that Dad cooked for me last night—ground sirloin patty and caramelized onions and buttered asparagus—and that Mom carried my plate up the stairs to my cell; guilt that I have to isolate from people who need me and find joy in my company, that I have to shun them in order to protect them; guilt for the horrified glances (as I imagined) at choir practice when Mom told the neighbors I am sick with Covid; guilt for Dad hiring a company to mow and trim the lawn because I cannot do it (this week) and neither can he; guilt that I cannot help Mom and Dad with their insurance claim against the worry-laden lady who delivers the New York Times who drove her decrepit car into the driveway who wore a cast on her left foot who had a child in her car who zoom away only to destroy Mom’s and Dad’s beautiful brick mailbox with the candle bulbs on top which I had just replaced, after tossing the newspaper out her window—the nice mailman still puts our mail in the box; guilt that I just cannot find the energy to join my children’s celebration of me; guilt that I was not careful enough and fell to the illness despite four vaccinations and two years of face coverings and continuous hand sanitizing and following all the rules—I always keep the rules; guilt for having taken Caleb and Edie to dinner when I thought I had a cold on that first day (a dozen tests during a dozen colds and flus in the last two years were all negative); and a gnawing guilt for even being in this house where the insidious virus might slip under my bedroom door and launch a deadly attack on the people I care most about.  I have nowhere else to go.  And I am sure I will get better soon.  And I did not do anything worthy of guilt or shame, so I just need to let the guilt go and to rest and let my little world take care of itself for a few more days until I am ready to rejoin the race.

Lily Pond in Summer Drouth

Do you ever feel dried out and empty, with no zest for life?  I know I do.  I am thinking that feeling is a common human experience.  The happy parts of life are there but seem just out of reach.  The heat of guilt and the sun of duty sap our strength, along with many other troublesome things.  But I also believe that if we work for it and wait for it, relief comes to us, in the form of a smile, a kind word, a personal achievement, and many other ennobling things.  In this poem I used a dried-out lake bed as a metaphor for the hard times in life, trusting that hope hangs just around the bend of tomorrow.

Lily Pond in Summer Drouth

The lily pond has
completely dried out, birds
have picked the flesh off white-boned fish, old
slimy greenery mats into dark
paper that flakes and flies
away like cindered news:

the sun has sucked all moisture from the muck:

the bowled bed lies cracked and ravined
in a million baked-mud islands:
the definition of a desiccation:

I recall:
red sliders scooting off their sun-logs, fiery
newts crawling with wet leafy fragility,
butter-cream lilies crowning: lotuses
bursting with wisdom and beauty . . .

but the spring will not flow:
the pond has dried and died:
and there is nothing for it
but to settle in

until tomorrow’s heaviness sheds
abundance.

 

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human heart.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Above image by Carabo Spain from Pixabay.

Sucking Air

20160606_141448

Some of life’s experiences leave you feeling like a flopping fish sucking air in a dry river bed.

SUCKING AIR

By some dark power she
damned the stream,
made all the fishes flop
on their sides on the rocks,
sucking air, just
long enough.

Break the log jam.  Pray for rain.  Breathe deeply.  And swim.