Loving Wide Open at The End of an Era

Her Days Are Numbered. That's Why We Make Them COUNT.

Month: July, 2013

Day 282 – Still Here

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We’re still here.

Izzy’s still here.

I’m still here.

I don’t know how it’s happened, but I’m grateful. In October, doctors told us she’d already passed her expiration date, and though she could surprise us, it wasn’t likely. We prepared to fully live every day we had left, and started this blog to count her days, and to make sure her days count. And then suddenly and out of nowhere, our family was struck with another tragedy. My sister Robin was infected with a rare bacteria after a minor family dog bite and life was thrown into chaos. My every waking moment was spent with thoughts of Robin: being there for her kids, praying, wishing and ultimately, fundraising.

I was prepared that at any moment Izzy could pass and I’d have to deal with loss on top of loss, pain on top of agony. And yet she didn’t. She stayed by my side on the red couch day after day, sometimes as many as 20 hours a day as I reached out to the world in hopes of helping my sister. As the months passed, my own life went from horrible to unimaginable, in a turn of events I have told no one outside of my family. I can’t go into details, but suffice it to say there have been moments in 2013 that nearly cost me my own life, and certainly my sanity and vitality.

Seven months later here we are. It feels as if the worst has passed. I am often dazed, looking at my life from the outside, wondering whose hands these are on the keyboard, who this woman is on the couch, staring into the cyber world half dazed, somewhat confused. They say trauma can do that to you, leave you in realms of shock that help the experience become softer, more easy to manage.

And here in the often-fuzzy realms of aftershock, I gaze down and the one thing I recognize completely is the little wispy-eared head, the freckled face, the tiny rib cage moving in and out with soft wet sounds of labored breath.

She stayed here for me.

I can’t help that thought. It comes without warning, throughout the day.

When I thought it was over, when I thought the end had begun, Izzy surprised me once again, staying by my side through my own endings, through my losses and devastations. She remains. Proving, once again, life is full of surprises. Blessings. Mercies. Grace.

And this makes me shed soft tears of compassion, like feathers falling gently from heaven’s rafters. When I learned of Izzy’s condition, I set aside my plans and ambitions, and determined that I’d live right next to Izzy for the rest of her life. I resolved that my life would center around the life left inside her heart, the air left inside her lungs.

I stayed here for her.

And now what I have done for her, she’s done for me. Every day, once tragedy struck, she spent right next to me, going nowhere, yet traveling the roads of tenderness, the pathways of companionship.

I fear in my tumult and crisis that somehow I failed her. That I wasn’t really present for her. And yet, we’ve shared the same couch. Breathed the same molecules. And maybe sometimes that’s all you need. That sense of not-aloneness. That quiet gift of presence, and its aura of purpose.

She’s still here. As I write this, her uneven breath makes little ragged snoring sounds beside me. She’s curled on the red couch so that I can feel her rib cage–in, out, in out, against my thigh and the short, sweet coolness of her breath on my knee. I’m coming through one of the darkest, most treacherous roads of my life, and I’m still here. My own breath–in, out, in, out–is affirmation that life goes on. Im not sure what’s next. A little broken. Somewhat bruised. Sometimes reaching for for the light through a chest of jagged breaths. But still, we reach.

And life reaches back.

We’re still here.

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Day 276

Izzy has a new haircut. Where else to celebrate that than at the coffee shop? With an Iced Italian Cream Soda! Izzy loves the whipped cream.

Look mom, I have a neck! Who knew?
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Day 272 – Scenes from a Coffee Shop

Izzy and I are no strangers to coffee shops. Most mornings we go over to see Kit and Carol at Coffee Cats in downtown Taos. For three years we’ve been sitting at the same blue table, on the same white bench, gazing out the same glass windows over the same trees, sometimes green and pliant, sometimes yellow and quivering, sometimes bare and achingly still. Those trees, we know them from root to branch as they converse with us on the wind through the open window. Izzy lifts her head to sniff out tidings carried on the breeze: of sap and soil, petals falling, bird nest weaving, squirrel games of hide and seek, ant parades.

I order a latte for me and a little dish of water for her. I sit. I write. Or I try to. As Izzy listens to the leaves and reads the wind’s tree mail, she moves from dog bed to table to bench, to get closer to the window. She leans into my lap for a lick of whipped cream. She kisses my face. She lays across my journal. She sits on my laptop. When I relocate her back to her own chair, she’ll take a nap, or, if she’s not sleepy, fake me out with semi-asleep poses designed for maximum cute-overload attack, hoping to seduce me away from my writing.

Pretty much every morning, it works. I put the pen down. I pick the chihuahua up. Until recently…I’ve started picking up the camera so you can see what I see.

This is a first in a series entitled Scenes From a Coffee Shop

Scenes from a Coffee Shop Volume 1
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Day 270

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Some laptops never go out of style.