Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Line

In case it has been wondered, I have not been shirking.

I have not been swanning about of an evening and thinking Hey ho, shall I take myself up to the dear old computer and dash off a quick post before a cup of Horlicks and early bed...

Oh no. It feels as if I have swum rivers, climbed mountains, nay, parted the seas no less, to get to this place of time and silence tonight. Beginning to type, I realise I have been well nigh desperate to write.

So because I have little capacity to remember anything but sensation these days unless I write it down, I take up my turquoise Equity diary and just out of curiosity take a look at what exactly I have been doing which has kept me from this blog.

For one thing, I discover that in the last couple of weeks
I have accompanied too many people I love in and out of hospitals.

In one of life's Sent-To-Try-Us stunts, the Bim was required to undergo a procedure almost identical to the one which uncovered Esme's cancer. We admitted to each other yesterday that in the days before he went in - which passed in a frenzy of high nerves and excessive chocolate consumption on my part, and outbursts of anger on his - we both had him down to die. We were therefore astonished and vastly relieved to discover that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that particular end of him.

(He goes in for another test tomorrow but this time we're almost blase in our optimism, seeing as he was given the all clear down below and understanding that you can't live at that level of anxiety for any length of time without going nuts or divorcing).

Then Esme began her chemotherapy treatment.

Sailing through the first 36 hours she crashed to earth in the wee small hours of the second night. She was alone, and it was awful. The drugs brought their spiteful side to the fore and I ended up staying with her the following night, just so that I knew that if she woke in distress or pain, there was someone there. I lived alone for many years. I know about those graveyard hours. I know what it is to wake and wish for all the world for someone you love to be within call.

That day saw Anna-m and me accompanying her to the hospital.

What kind of cancer did you have? I asked the man next to me in the waiting area as gently as I could. Stomach, he said. Big as yer fist.

Good thing they found it, we agreed.

How have you found your chemo? I asked, wanting him to say the impossible, that he sailed through - side effects pah!

There are good days and bad days, he said. As everyone does. Today, he said, his eyes widening with the surprise of it, my tooth fell out! Just fell out, onto me plate, just like that. I make a mental note not to mention this to Esme, then find myself blurting it out in the car on the way home. We both agree that this couldn't possibly happen to her, and rubbish the state of the man's gums.

There been good moments, too:

The rough, sticky earth in my fingernails as I plant up happy purple pansies in the garden's newly dug border.

An extraordinary, button-punching conversation about love, and God, with a Quaker couple of fifty years.

The joy in Anna-mouse's hug of greeting after her first morning alone at play school.

Typing for my father and realising that he has written his best play for years.

And tonight. A family gathering. Esme's birthday. Her tired, worn face. Her spirit which continues to soar.

I mention this spirit to my father when I deliver the finished script to him earlier in the day. A further, bittersweet side effect of Esme's illness has been his genuine and apparent concern for her after so many divided years.

But she's always been like that, he says. She's always been able to rise above things. Has she? I say, mainly because I want to hear him say it all again, so rare is it for me to hear him say nice things of her. My teenage years were riven with snide asides from either side. It heals some strife-worn part of me, to hear him speak so, and my eyes brim with tears.

I wonder often, these days, why it takes a brush with the life/death divide - the Line, we should call it - to wake our sleepy souls and feel the rush of air that is life as it is meant to be lived: from a place of love, and acceptance, with a steady forward, not backward, march.


Richard said...

worth the wait, dear friend. How I agree with those final words. You are my inspiration.


Sue said...

I love your sentiments at the end too.

I have been receiving some lovely messages from a friend that make you stop, think and re-assess the priorities of life.

Glad to hear Bim's news was good and hope Esme's good days outweigh the bad ones.

Also hope you are looking after yourself too.

Take care.

Sue x

Rachel Whetzel said...

HUGS! So nice to hear from you in MY blog world... I hope you are well. Just also wanted to let you know that my Mom is without a computer right now, and so when you do not hear from her, know that it is not because she has forgotten you!

Cathy said...

Livvy, I hope all is well with the Bim. My hubby had tests (I suspect the same type) a couple of years ago. Nothing was found, but he has found that cutting out caffeine has helped with the pain.

You are coping with all this so well, keep strong, and update us all on Esme and Bim when you can.


Livvy U. said...

I hope you all come back here to read that... I never fail to be astonished and moved by the great swell of love and support left for me in comments on this blog by that small, loyal band - my readers! Many, many thank yous. I have not been able to write much of late. So to know you are still returning here is a great relief to me. The writing, though, is about to re-commence!
Livvy x

Lynette said...

It heals some strife-worn part of me, to hear him speak so, and my eyes brim with tears. what a gift. i am so glad that you received this from your father.

i am sorry, too, about your sweetheart and your mother. it is such a trial, when those we love are ill, and it seems almost selfish to think of ourselves at those times, but it is very, very hard. very hard.

i know whereof i speak because we are approaching the 5th anniversary of my husband's spectacular failure to breathe and a subsequent stay in intensive care and then a very long, very slow progress of recovery. years.

i had that moment of clarity there ~ that awareness of the preciousness of life and my presence in it. so alive once we've bypassed death yet again. why is it so easily lost?

as the result of your sharing this here, i will attempt to actually live in the moment tomorrow. it's gardening day and i've much to do, no better place to be focused on the miracle of life than when i'm digging in the dirt.

hugs, sweetie. off to bed now. thanks so much for visiting me and enticing me to visit you back. you're wonderful.