In Lieu Of Flowers

My mom has already become my hard copy archivist; if she doesn’t have a file folder labeled “Julie’s Surgery” with all the Facebook comments and blog posts, she probably will soon.

And as soon as I feel creative, I need to gather them all together in a fun way, sort of a Get Well Soon card.

That is a joke, of course. I can’t conceive of feeling creative, or energized, or restless or rested. I’m pretty much taking the feelings one at a time right now.

Latest (before I forget): Maybe home tomorrow (Saturday). She’s doing really well, remarkably well. She read some emails, even posted a status update on Facebook, although I’m not sure how much love and support from everyone in the online world she’s comprehended yet. She understands priorities pretty well; all things in good time.

Mom is available via email, Facebook and this blog; she’s also one of the few people I called during the surgery, reserving that old-fashioned communication for my need to hear a voice. She doesn’t do text messaging, since her cell is of the emergency variety only.

My in-laws, on the other hand, only do telephone.

There are those of you who only hear from me via this blog. There are a couple of people who are only aware of this via my almost-never-used Twitter account.

There are a few people who will only note something from me on Facebook, mixed in with everyone else and sometimes only when they think to check, so there have been some surprises there.

And some people I’ve had to place in a special email group, since they’ll get that but maybe only check it once a day.

So I could make a chart if, again, I had the brain power to do that, which I don’t. There’d be a lot of overlap, but also discrete groups of people and individuals who would like to know, need to know, are of great comfort to me when they know, and this has all kept me busy and made me batshit crazy, scared I’m going to forget. But, again, it’s all been worth it.


Speaking of me.

One of my oldest and dearest friends sent me a message last night, reminding me that I have my own priorities. Nothing I’ve gone through and felt has been anything short of cliché, expected and completely conventional. Lack of focus, disorientation, poor sleep, not eating, eating all at once and late at night. Spelling errors, you name it.

And I absolutely get that I have to be on my grownup game, that I need to stay on the ball and that I need to ask for help. Absolutely.

There are no surprises, not yet and not expected. There is always a price; I know that all that stuff I’ve been shoving in the closet will have be sorted out, eventually. I had a glimpse only once, right about 12:15pm on Wednesday, when I checked the time and thought, OK, surgery has begun. I’ve visualized surgeries for decades now, having spent a fair amount of time around records and reading reports. I know the anatomy, I know the procedures, I know the instruments and the techniques, pretty well actually. I knew how it would go, I saw it in my mind, saw the incision being made in my wife’s skull, and for a few seconds I got a glimpse of the inside of that closet. For a few seconds I thought I was going to be a mildly embarrassing middle-aged man losing it in the waiting area of a major medical center, and then I set that aside.

But that stuff needs to see some sunlight, sooner than later. Got that.


These are my friends.

Also? That is my foot.

I was actually trying to snap a picture of this hilarious old guy who apparently went out into his yard, found some interesting-looking mushrooms, ate them, and then decided to dress for the hospital. My eyes hurt.

But I couldn’t get a decent angle, so I grabbed this picture of Waiting. Both of these people know all about it, by nature and by vocation. Both have been seminary trained in the spiritual side of life, and I suspect neither of them would think that a little Psalm singing or verse snatching would be appropriate or even helpful in a situation like this. What they are good at is waiting, being present in the moment, holding me for hours and hours and watching, sometimes with smiles, as I decompensated and compensated over and over. I do believe Scott there on the left was actually writing his sermon for this Sunday. Jan was reading a paperback. And both of them, I guarantee you, were muting their own love and friendship for my wife in order to watch over her husband. There are no words for this kind of love, this ordinary holiness, this service of compassion.

You really should have seen that old guy, though. Checks and stripes all the way down.

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  1. Two friends came with you and stayed with you for hours and hours? How awesome is that? There is so much love in this world.

    And that guy you didn’t get a picture of is my new hipster saint, btw.


  2. Hah — So, on your Venn diagram of connections, I’d be waving with your mom from the Facebook/Blog group, but outside her circle in the “Haven’t actually met you yet” and “Long-time friend not family” group. Heck, for all I know I’m the *only* one in that distinguished segment of “Folks Who Care About Chuck” 🙂

    Really glad to hear she’s doing well today, but surely you have photographed the wrong lovely woman. Your wife had brain surgery! This woman has an apparently undisturbed head of hair!!

    Three cheers for an apparently humane approach by the surgical prep team!!!

    And three more cheers for good friends keeping the vigil with you in that waiting room, Chuck. Having been there myself on occasion, I’ve vowed never to let a friend in similar circumstances wait alone. It makes a world of difference.

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