This Day In Extraordinary Time

We got a save-the-date card in the mail the other day from good friends, planning a September wedding.  This is A Happy Thing, calm joy, two lovely people taking their time but tying the knot the old-fashioned way, and at a moment that inspires me.  I can’t remember ever attending one of these weddings in the middle of life.  Looking forward to it.

It reminded me, and both of us really, of when we heard the big news.  It was a year ago, a nice dinner with friends, and there was a fun back story, bended knee and a secret ring, etc.

We had news, too.  Not as fun, but we kept it light.  We didn’t know what else to do at that point.  Or now, really.

So that card in the mail led to talk, and then wandering around the archives, looking at emails, looking at blog posts, nailing down the exact date because…why?  I have no idea.  It’s good to remember, I guess, mark the days and count the blessings.

Eight months and three days following brain surgery, exactly one year ago today, it was hospital marathon all over again.  This time it was cardiac catheterization and stent placement, not a complicated procedure at all, but there were plenty of memories there.  Not to mention wondering whether we’d have to do it again soon, which we would.

Have I ever mentioned how complicated this was?  Resecting a brain tumor requires intermittent MRIs to check up, to make sure it’s not growing back and causing problems.  MRIs are problematic when you have metal in your body.  Coronary stents are made of metal, and so on.  There’s that.

There’s also the need for anticoagulation, keeping the blood thin to improve the odds against another traffic jam in those very important arteries.  These days, they have drug-eluting stents that release anticoagulant into the blood stream all by themselves, but those were out of the question.  She would have to take her Plavix daily for six weeks or so, then come off for a week for the breast biopsy.  Then go back on.  Then come back off, if there was need for surgery.  Which there was.

I mean, doctors were calling each other like teenagers the week before prom.  It was crazy.

So that was 2011.  Part of 2010, and a good chunk of 2011.  Hospitals.  Preop areas, waiting, gowns, nurses, wheelchairs, gurneys, consultations, plans, drugs, recovery.  It started when my wife sang a high note, but it feels like it really began a year ago today.

And then there was the biopsy, which was depressing.  And then the beginning of the ordination procedure, which should have been a slam dunk but was corrupted by misunderstanding and maybe some pettiness and politics.  And then the breast surgery, and then the radiation again, and more drugs and more recovery.  A school year starts, a rainy summer ends, an autumn begins, a heart keeps pumping, and here we are.

She had some pain the other night, and I watched her in silence for what felt like two whole minutes, as she assessed what she was feeling and my hand hovered over my phone, knowing the numbers, three of them.  I was this close.  This close.  No messing around, but it was something else, just a long day, just a pain.  Just a reminder that nothing is certain, and nothing is the same.

And if it ended – if it can end – maybe it was on that Sunday afternoon in April, with a fair amount of sun and lots of love and people, when the ordination finally happened.  Maybe.  Or maybe it’s today, or maybe it’s never.  My money’s on never, since life moves in only one direction, but I’m perfectly willing to mark moments and be arbitrary.  We’ve gone from some place to somewhere else, and we’re still here.  She will always pay attention to aches and pains.  Medical bills will never, ever go away, I think.  My hand will always hover.

I’m all about new days, though, if I can’t help but remember the past.  It’s worth noting, anyway, and then moving on.  Her heart is fine, mine seems OK, blood flows, cancer can be arrested, summer is coming and this one will be different, it has to be.  Calm joy is all we ask, and I’m thinking we can make that work.


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  1. I am without words. Great reminder that we all need to take a moment each day to feel calm joy in the moment.

    Mairi (Mary)

  2. I’m nodding my head, sighing and smiling, all at the same time.

    I’m also holding up my fist toward the sky, not in an angry way, but in a fist bump sort of way.

    Well said, Chuck. Well done, God.

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