Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Surrounded by Love

Thanking our dinner providers and airport transporters and get-Suzi-out-of-the-house people took place at a hug fest in our backyard Saturday night.  Scheduled around JannyLou's chemo and my ability to ambulate and Chicago Gal's gallivanting ways, I somehow managed to choose the most perfect Saturday night of the season.  Warm all day to heat up the air so that, as the sun got lower in the sky, our sleeveless guests could meander on the hardscape and admire the landscape and watch the colors come out behind Stafford Peak.

Not taken that night, but this is the general idea.

Guest brought guests and children and wine and guest towels and candles and cards.  A crocheted heart was appended to a hand-written hug from a friend who was tired of sending me angels.  It didn't really matter; I've loved them all.

There were two sets of DVD's recording moments revolving around The Event.  One set is more personal, with healing vibes sent out into the community by people who live and work and shop in the Safeway shopping center.  The coming together, the refusal to relinquish their store to awful memories, the healing they took from announcing their resolve as a group - it's a tearfest and a gigantic smile all at the same time.

And then there is the second set of DVD's, more than a dozen of them, precisely labeled and delivered in chronological order.  Remember those three days of my life which passed while leaving no memory in their wake?  They are there, on these round disks, filling in the gaps and rounding out the edges.

My family was in the ICU for 48 hours straight.  There was no newspaper reading nor television viewing.  There were loving eyes on my en-tubed carcass every hour of every day.  No one had any idea of the magnitude of The Event outside our own private little horror.  When TBG agreed to speak to the media he imagined a reporter from our local paper and her notepad and pencil.  Instead, he walked into the Kiewit Auditorium and the world's press corps.

Trust me, denizens.  Had he known that he'd be talking to all of you that morning he wouldn't have had his sunglasses balanced on his head.   But he had no idea.

One of my hiking buddies is a techie-genius, or so it seems to me.  He captured the local ABC and NBC affiliates' broadcasts and presented us with "The Days of Our Lives - How We Ended Up in the Middle of it All."

That's our name for them, not his.  We'd seen the CNN B-roll footage over and over again, but we'd never heard the pain and horror in the voices of the reporters, we'd never listened to the 911 calls nor tried to find my feet in the shots of patients being loaded into helicopters or carried across the parking lot.  Every once in a while we have to hit pause and look at one another in astonishment.  This really happened to us.  To us.  Us.

We were anonymous and now we are not.  We've cried in public, in front of 21 million people at a time (or so says Dateline), and we felt better after it was done.  From different perspectives our questioners asked us to look at the circumstances anew.  We learned and found answers as we were surrounded by love.  And the love grew and grew.

Our favorite part of the retrospective is watching the memorial outside UMC.  Reporters were stationed on the grassy lawn in the center of the hospital's circular main driveway.  It offered the perfect backdrop for their stand-ups.  From a dozen candles in glass and a bouquet or two on Saturday afternoon, it soon covered the eastern edge of the green.  By Sunday it began to divide into a pathway or two.  On Monday there were mariachis and violinists and choirs.

  The love just kept on growing.

Most of the time, now, January 8th isn't in the forefront of my mind.  Most of the time, as Billy Collins says better than I could, life goes on
As Usual

After we have parted, the boats
will continue to leave the harbor at dawn.
The salmon will struggle up to the pools,
one month following the other on the wall.

The magnolia will flower,
and the bee, the noble bee-
I saw one earlier on my walk-
will shoulder his way into the bud.
But sometimes it helps to remember, to relive it, to feel it.  Now there are a few less holes in our story.

from horoscopes for the dead by Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate, 2001-2003.


  1. What a wonderful way to bring a sense of closure to so many. Good for you, AB. Good for us all. (And another thanks to our guy, BC!)

  2. Billy Collins continues to inspire me, to soothe me, to know exactly how I'm feeling on any particular day. How nice to have met him with YOU!

  3. A touching post. Reminds me that it's going to take a very long time for Gabby Giffords to process this event and experience healing. Time, a lot of time, is what she's going to need. I enjoy reading your posts, and following your healing process.

  4. Thank you for this post. I can understand while, wrapped up in the events, it could be hard to process the grief that others around the world experienced from this event as well. (I still remember what I was doing at my kitchen table when my mom called from Oro Valley to tell me what had happen. In a way, I'm still shocked.) However, it brings a huge smile to my face to know that happiness and joy are continuing to flourish back in my little hometown, and that the actions of one only brought a tight knit community that much closer.

  5. And speaking of Gabby, I think you could help her heal.

  6. It seems from here that you choose excellent things to help yourself, your family, and those around you to heal. And that they choose excellent things to help you, too. Some people would not want to watch those videos, but the things depicted were real, they really happened, and so they are really THERE, anyway, aren't they? Crafting an ongoing reality means comprehending what got us here...the best we can.

    Sounds like a beautiful night.

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