Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And Nature Shows You The Way

Yesterday was a long and tiring day at work -- another 12 hour day of hauling out boxes and skids of textbooks, cracking them open just in time for students to grab them (if anyone remembers the madness surrounding "Tickle Me Elmo" dolls, you can imagine it was like that, except for first year Biology, Chemistry, Math and Physics textbooks. And no, those textbooks don't giggle and say cute little Elmo catch-phrases, although I think at one moment I heard the phonebook sized Physics textbook say: "Me really heavy" and chortling madly when a student overloaded past capacity with an armload of heavy textbooks struggled to pick it up)

Of course, my mind was also heavy with a few different things in the evening as I was walking across campus back to where my truck was parked. I'd been thinking about the tragedy of September 11th 5 years earlier, about the families of 9/11 victims like Raymond Mesenheimer and what they were doing and feeling.

And underlying everything was the nonstop worry and stress surrounding my mother in law. A cancer survivor who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, she was on medication for sciatica that might have contributed to a sudden downspiral in health. Almost a week ago she was rushed in to emergency in the middle of the night and diagnosed with heart failure, pneumonia and a blood infection. With only 19% of her heart functional, she's still in the I.C.U., sedated to an unconscious state to give her body a chance to recover, and has a respirator (she's doing 95% of the breathing on her own but the respirator keeps her airway secure and open).

My mother in law is a wonderful woman whom I love dearly. And there are way too many things that we'd like to do with her, way too many memories for her to build with Alexander as well. Fran is visiting her twice daily, desperately missing their daily lunch-time chats, telling her about the events of our days and letting her know about all the people who are sending her their kind wishes, thoughts and prayers. Alexander is itching to show her the new puzzles he has mastered, the new books he has acquired, the new dance routine he has perfected. I am anxiously awaiting another chance to see her roll her eyes affectionately at one of my stupid jokes, or the chance to sit back and just listen to the magic of her fingers dancing across her piano keyboard.

And so while it can go one of three ways, and we're taking it one day at a time, we're hopeful that she'll pull out of this and recover.

All this stress and concern and gloom was swirling in my head as I was walking home, physically exhausted and wincing with every step due to a pulled or strained stomach muscle (likely from lifting boxes or moving skids improperly), when nature stepped in.

Just ahead of me, not much more than 10 feet, a doe and her calf stepped out of the woods, onto the sidewalk and started crossing the road. They made it to the other side and paused at the woods. The doe turned, noticed me, then looked back at the other two calves that were following along behind them more slowly. Then all four deer calmly strode into the woods on the far side of the street and disappeared into the wooded area.

I paused and watched them, realizing that while there was often traffic down this stretch of road that lead to the farthest parking lots on campus, it was quiet. There wasn't another pedestrian in sight either. It was just me and those deer.

And despite the stress, the worry, the physical pain, I felt at peace. And I got a sense that everything was going to turn out okay.

I love it when nature does that to me.


lime said...

and you are a wise man to embrace that pause when it enters unexpectedly. prayers for your MIL's full recovery. hugs to you, fran ,and alexander.

Rainypete said...

It's the art of catching those little moments that makes life that much more fulfilling. Funny how they seem to show up just when we need them too. My good wishes are also to be added to the pile. If you need a hand with anything just let me know.

Kimberly said...

welcome to the enchanted forest that I think shares a parallel universe with campus. those rare sightings often bring a sense of peace and calm.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother in law..if there's anything I can do for you and Fran and Alex, don't hesitate to ask.

Franny said...

It so much harder when you're trying to be strong for the kids, who don't understand.
I am thinking of the the song "The Riddle" by Five for Fighting...take a listen to the words. It has the same effect as those deer on the soul.

Mantaray Ocean said...

My wishes and prayers go out to all of you and I pray for her recovery.