Month 1 / January-February, 2000
First Things First
The Best Medicine
R- "Do you want to put your feet up?
G- [wimpily:] "I don't care..."
R- "Do you want me to beat them with hammers?
I mean, then would you care?"
Death Head (I've been working on this for some time now:)|
It seems to me that in order to live accurately, you must confront death at every opportunity. If you remain aware that each moment may be your last—that a piano may be hurtling to ground above the next patch of concrete you plan to step onto; that the twitch you imagine as a hint of indigestion may in fact be the beginning of a massive coronary; or that going to sleep at night might turn into a no-return activity—then you'll find the world sorting itself out for you rather nicely. It becomes increasingly difficult to waste time on things like romance novels, the latest trial of the century, professional wrestling, or literal readings of two-thousand year old poetic mythologies. It really helps you cut to the core. So I think about the fact that I, that all this, will END at some point in the not at all distant future, life but a miraculous flash in an immense and sprawling darkness. I think about it every day. Purposefully. When I'm planting the tomatoes or yanking weeds or watching the garden go from green to brown, I keep that life-cycle-two-sides-of-the-same-coin metaphor set squarely between mine own eyes. When I hear of someone dying, I think there but for the graceofgod go... any of us. Any second now. And it becomes the best available tool for continually upping the resolution on my efficiency, my priorities, and the way I behave from moment to moment. But never so much as now. Say it again: Never so much as now.
Grom, she of the luminous white hair, lying behind me dying. There is really no other way than that to grasp the arrangement without trying to gloss it over, and I'm not here to gloss things over, as will soon come clear to anyone who does not know it already. Come in, be seated, welcome to True Face 101. The strokes come tap-tap-tapping at her skull, almost daily. The will goes into hiding. The body, its weight in slow descent mode, prepares to disappear. The food is offered, then taken away. The entire scene playing itself out in a crescendo of diminishment. I want to lie down, she says. I want to sleep. I'm tired. I'm so tired.
The first thing she said to me, pleading, when I arrived at the ER after the January 8th stroke:
"Why didn't you let me go?"
So I prepare to let her go.
Next: The Wonderful World of Strokes