Tuesday, January 5, 2010


a handful of weeks ago I began a blog post that I quickly relegated to the Draft folder. it wasn't much more than a title and a one-sentence concept, and I stopped myself from working on it because I feared it was going to be too pitiful. too maudlin, too woe-is-me, too much of an obvious tug on hearts and emotions.
all of that leapt from a single sentence, yep.
but the events of this week have pushed me to return to that line, connect it with my current position, and see what comes of it.
there are certain places that have become touchstones in my life, places that hold great emotional wells, deep and plentiful. one of those I drive past each morning as I go to power camp: Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC). It's just a building. a large one, yes, but still, a building.
it's been almost 19 years since I first walked down one of its hallways, and it's a place achingly, painfully, familiar to me. to enter this building sometimes unleashes a grief so deep it threatens to swell up and swallow me whole.
some days I drive past the hospital and it's as if nothing ever happened within those walls.
other days, my heart leaps as I drive past, and I push all those thoughts and memories back down, deep, so that they don't overwhelm me.

that huge, sprawling building is a touchstone for me, one that defines the bulk of my adult life.
and now I'm creating a new touchstone.

it's another hospital, far across the valley and of a deeper shade of brick yet still, at its core, an artificial environment that is uncomfortably familiar.
my oldest son is lying in a bed next to me as I write. I look at him, and relive so very many experiences we've had within hospital walls. as I told this morning's doctor, my son has been through hell. from day one, almost 19 years ago. he's had more surgeries and procedures than any one person should ever have to have, and suffered through so much pain and discomfort that I'm amazed he ever finds the strength and desire to smile. we humans are so unbelievably resilient.

today it's pneumonia, and a low platelet count.
but I see flashes of him at 4 pounds, at 5 pounds, post-ventricular-shunt surgery, post-g-tube surgery, in the ICU near death. I see him, I see me, I try not to feel deeper than the first few layers.
he's resting now, and I join him in this existence outside reality. the rest of the world spins and rotates, moving through its day, but time has come to a standstill for us.
that's what the PCMC touchstone represents for me: a withdrawal from ordinary, understandable life into an artificial zone where time and reality are suspended for hours, days, weeks.

I still want to take my son swooping and soaring on my bike. but perhaps I'll start with just a shared visualization. I can talk him through it, the climb up the canyon with the sun on our bodies, the air crisp and refreshingly cool and clear. he'll be wrapped more warmly than me, and he'll feel cozy and safe. birds sing, wind gently rustles aspen leaves. someone's fire sends the scent of burning wood floating across the road and we pull it into our lungs, delighted.
Jake's cheeks are rosy as mine are flushed, and the top of the hill comes at just the right time. we slowly traverse the crest, then gather speed as we begin our swoop, his body leaning against mine as the air surrounds and protects us. we soar down the hill, the two of us, caressed by son and shocked with fresh air, and we are as vibrantly, fully, beautifully alive as two beings can ever be.
we have a new touchstone.

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