Sometimes life is like a parking lot: full of speed bumps.
Three months ago I bought tickets to New Zealand for Jerry and me. We plan to spend Christmas with my cousin there. It seemed a bit crazy, since we were going to Alaska, coming home, the next week having Thanksgiving here on the island, and a week later setting out for the Southern Hemisphere. But that’s what I planned.
We came home form Alaska; all was going well when it turned out that the house sitter I had arranged for the New Zealand trip was not what we wanted. She came well recommended from a friend on the island, but he had revised his opinion while we were in Alaska. He is missing valuables from his house. He couldn’t get her to leave his house when he got home from his trip, and had to pack up her belongings and move her to a hotel. She has made herself a reputation on the island for being extremely odd and difficult to get along with. I tried to find a substitute, but ultimately had to book the dogs into a kennel.
I got an email from a dear old friend (and long ago a lover), Richard. He has an inoperable cancer. I am a few years older, so he is in his early 70’s. Not ready to go. He says he feels fine, appears in perfect health but has overwhelming anxiety. He says, “ Had the members of my church gather around with their hands on me and they prayed. If God is listening a crowd should have more impact. . . . If you have any spiritual inclinations I can use all the prayers I can get.”
I will do my best, but I think I am not the right sort of person to be of assistance with prayer. My problem is that I don’t believe in a god, and certainly not Richard’s God. I think this universe, though deeply mysterious, is mechanistic. If there is a god, which I doubt, he would be as mysterious as the universe itself. How would I address such a god?
And how would I pray? Would I say: please don’t let this disease kill my friend? Let him be taken at some later date by something else. Or perhaps I should pray that he not suffer, or that he accept his destiny and trust in — Who? What?
I wrote an email to my lawyer daughter, a devout Catholic, who understands prayer better than I, and asked her to light a candle and say a prayer for Richard. And you, my friends and readers, will you say a prayer for Richard? He is a good man, and has more good to do in this world before he passes on to the next (?).
Thanksgiving came. My grandson, his wife and baby all had bad colds and couldn’t join us as planned. Besides, there was a heavy snowfall all day on Thanksgiving. The drive from Seattle would have been awful. The dinner was good; I had 7 people at the table and a mountain of left over food, all of which I persuaded my guests to take home. Since we plan to be away for a month I don’t want food in the house.
We had a pleasant, low-key afternoon, but I was disappointed not to see the baby. I enjoyed my almost 13 year old granddaughter, Clare, and so did the dogs. She petted and played with them. We laughed together about my all black cat’s one white whisker that sticks straight out like a long tusk.
Clare is a sweet tempered, well behaved child who loves all animals.
Our big problem now is that Jerry is experiencing a recurrence of cluster headaches. These are excruciatingly painful headaches that center around his left eye. He is having 2 to 3 episodes a day and they interfere with his sleep. The sharp, stabbing pain is brief, usually lasting less than an hour, but it leaves him feeling wiped out and there is a residual ache.
I am starting to pack and wondering whether we should go. I think we must consult the doctor, but naturally he is not available because this is a holiday weekend.
In the meantime the temperature has climbed to 40F and all this snow is turning to mush. A week ago there were still leaves on the trees. Now they are scattered in rumpled confusion all over the wet dirty snow, along with twigs and branches blown about by the storm. The outside world looks dismal.
A flicker comes to the suet feeder. As he flies, orange feathers under his wing and tail flash for a moment in the dull November scene, but when he folds his wings just a sliver of orange can be seen. The sun shines briefly.
I’ll do some packing, and some hoping.